We spent the last week at the cabin. Karl had mowed the grass prior to our arrival. We had decided that we need another shed in back so that I can have a small shop plus a storage shed. So we picked up some pier blocks, 4x4s and 2x6 joists and put together a 10x8 platform. Next trip we will frame up the walls. Suzanne began spray-painting some old plastic chairs while I was finishing up the floor joists.
This morning I burned a small pile of sticks and yard debris in our little fire pit. We are not allowed to burn brush on our property here, but fire pits are OK. The shed will be built in a number of phases. I can only do so much during a week. Perhaps the title of this blog should be, "Weak at the Cabin."
The first car my dad bought new (may have been the first car he owned) was a 1941 Buick Special 2-door coupe. It was likely the car I came home from the hospital in. He owned it for ten years, three of which it sat up on blocks in a Portland neighbor's garage while Dad was involved with defending New Guinea during WWII. He replaced it with a new 1951 Buick Special 2-door hardtop in 1949, before I started first grade (kindergarten was not mandatory back then). I don't remember the '41 Buick, but I do have a photo of it,
Below are two '41 Buick hood ornaments that I have cleaned up and mounted for display. Click on each photo for a better view and captions.
I have mounted clocks and weather instruments in a headlight ring and a taillight trim piece. See photo captions for details.
Finally, I have mounted front and rear shields for display. I am looking for an example of the full trunk emblem with the red spears and letters "BUICK EIGHT."
In the 1930s Cadillac had used a goddess hood ornament, but the '30s goddess was a full-figured gal in that she was depicted from head to toes. Post-war production updated the lady to a head with horizontal flowing hair or arm/wings - there was no body throughout the rest of her run into 1956. I have been able to acquire an immediate post-war example used from 1946 through '48. This initial design doubled as a hood release.
When I had the display completed and took it into the Senior Center Woodshop to show it off, the first thing Tom said was, "Where's the light?" Which I immediately realized was indeed needed. It has taken me longer to design and install LED lighting than it took to build the stand. Plus I had to add another board to the bottom (plinth) to give room for the light switch.
About a year ago I had obtained a similar Pontiac Chief hood ornament/release. I had mounted it onto a solid block of mesquite with the latch mechanism running down through a slot in the wood block. Pontiac and Cadillac both being divisions of General Motors it is not surprising that this hood-release design was shared. Pontiac's design was much lighter in weight.
And finally the two side-by-side.
Buick is probably my favorite car brand. My dad’s first (new) car was a 1941 Buick. I am certain that I rode home from the hospital in it. A decade later he replaced it with a 1951 Buick Special hardtop. I learned to drive in that car and passed my Oregon drivers test in it. No doubt the most recognized Buck symbol is the “gunsight” hood ornament that was used on the 1946 to 1954 models. The focus of my collection is on pre-1960 hood ornaments of any make, but I particularly focus on Buick. I have now acquired examples of all of these post-war years. They are shown, year by year, under my Automotive tab, but below is a group photo of what I have at this time.
Some of the examples I have been able to obtain were incomplete, typically lacking the ring that surrounds the “torpedo” or “spear” center. I have enjoyed reproducing the ring in hardwood. I have also been able to acquire some early hood ornaments and radiator caps, one that was produced when my dad was still in high school. I will still seek those rare early ones and I am yet lacking an example from 1956, but I persist.
I add items to my display of Woodwork and Automobilia most every week. But I have so much stuff there that it is hard for the visitor to know what is new. I have revised my Woodwork page into three columns similar to the Automobilia page. Where the Auto page is organized by alphabet and date of manufacture of the ornaments and emblems, under Woodwork I am simply adding the most recently produced pieces at the top of the columns. Thus it is easy to see my most recent wood works.
Since I continue to believe that most of those who may have an interest in my car hood ornaments and emblems would have an interest in certain brands and years, I will continue to organize the Automobilia page accordingly. Therefore I will point out some of my more recent productions that I find most interesting. In the early 1900s there was a car manufacturer on every block of the large cities. World War II pretty well cut out the small guys and built up the bigger car and truck companies by paying them (and requiring them) to produce war machinery. Some continued on after the war to great success and longevity. Others did not read the market well and fell off the table. One exception was Kaiser-Frazer. Henry J. Kaiser of Kaiser steel did well during the war, since all the vehicles, ships and planes used a lot of steel. Joseph W. Frazer had been an officer and finally president of the defunct Graham-Paige automobile manufacturer. The two figured that with Kaiser's steel resources and Frazer's car manufacturing skills they could enter the US automotive production scene and do well. They started up as Kaiser-Frazer Corp immediately after the war and put out new 1947 models. All the established manufacturers had to retool from war production and start designing again.. Most post-war cars were warmed over 1942 models. It was 1949 before most of the big boys brought a truly new product to market. Kaiser-Frazer did well in 1947 and '48 with their freshly designed cars
Kaiser cars were the bread-and-butter for Kaiser-Frazer and Frazer cars were the premium brand, designed to compete with Cadillac and Packard. Kaisers sold well. I personally recall seeing Kaiser cars in Salem, OR where I grew up. They were easily recognizable by the widow's peak windshield that only they had. Frazers I do not remember. Kaiser and Frazer both had a Manhattan model I suspect that automotive marketing was still in its infancy. The two were competing against each other. Frazer just did not do well, so in 1950 K-F decided to drop the Frazer brand and focus on Kaiser. Frazer came out with a 1951 model as its swan-song, but it was just a 1950 model with redesigned trim.
Why did I go through all this inconsequential background? Because I recently came across a 1951 Frazer hood ornament on eBay. It was missing a component, so the price was attractive. And the design I found to be intriguing. A chrome knight competing in a jousting event with a lance point protruding several inches in front of himself. Imagine putting anything like that on a car hood these days?!? The missing component was the lance point. I own a lathe, so I figured that I could certainly turn a replica lance point. I bid and won the piece.
I had previously seen pictures of this hood ornament on the 'net, at prices well above what I was willing to pay. When my purchase arrived I discovered that the front attachment for the lance point was a threaded hole and still had the remnants of a broken Lucite (plexiglass) tip. So I figured that an acrylic point would be as good as a hardwood one. I ordered a 1-1/8 inch acrylic rod from a supplier in San Jose, CA. I also found a scrap of native Texas mesquite and turned a replacement point of wood. When the acrylic rod arrived, I did the same with it. The catch was that the attachment was via a threaded 5/8" extension of the point. So I did a search on-line for a 5/8" die that would cut the threads I needed to make the attachment. Ultimately it all came together. In fact the icing was that I was even able to illuminate the acrylic tip with three LED bulbs set inside the ornament.
Check back, I have more to show.
In 1971 I was recently graduated from the University of San Francisco (1968) as an English major, had completed another year there for a Calif. Secondary Teaching Credential (1969) and was currently taking classes at San Jose State (then College) in Industrial Arts. I was driving a butter & egg delivery truck by day and taking evening classes at SJSC. My delivery rounds took me from South S.F. into San Francisco, across the Bay Bridge, through Walnut Creek, over the East Bay hills to San Ramon and back across to Hayward, back across the Bay on the San Mateo bridge and up to South City again. Then I would drive my rust-primered VW Karmann Ghia coupe down to San Jose. for class. Finally, back to Mt. View where I had started the day. This was long before anyone had heard the terms "Silicon Valley" or "Google."
At this point in my life I was married four years, had two children, girl and boy, ages three and one about 6-8 months old. None in school yet. On one afternoon when I was in San Fran and had completed my local (City) deliveries, I was driving the bob-tailed delivery truck through City streets to highway 101. As I passed near the Civic Center area I observed a two-story building with a dump-chute extending from a second-story window into a curbside dump bin. As I passed the bin I could not but notice that it was nearly full of nothing but vintage school desks, virtually identical to those I had sat in through grades one through four...or maybe it was six. So I circled the block, found a place to park near the dump bin and climbed in. I suddenly had fantasies of my darling little girl and boy sitting in the desks, coloring and soon doing homework in the same antique desks I had sat in in grade school.
I located three desk units that were not yet broken. Not an easy task, given that they had been thrown down the chute and were destined for a landfill. Not all three were of identical design, but beggars can't be choosers. Besides, not all the individual desks in my own classroom were identical either. I loaded them into my bobtailed truck that was largely empty by that point in the afternoon and took them back to the warehouse in South City.. I had to explain to the mom & pop (literally - Mr. & Mrs. Jim Andronico) proprietors of the wholesale outfit I worked for what the desks were doing in their truck, then cram them into my Karmann Ghia. The desks travelled to San Jose State, then Mtn. View and were unloaded into the covered carport on Rock St.
I could drag this story out over the next 48 years, but suffice it to say that my two kids became five, they all graduated high school and several had kids of their own who are all now out of high school. Two weeks ago I took the components of the three desks out of the cardboard box they have been in since the above-described events, spent two days figuring how to reassemble them and sanded and refinished them. My eldest child is now fifty., her brother is retired from a career in the Coast Guard, and their kids are all graduated from high school. So, the City & County of San Francisco vintage school desks are finally ready for use and I have no great-grandkids!
So I apologize to Kristin, Karl, Erik, Amy and David that none of them ever got to sit in these historic desks that are now about a hundred years old. Truly and technically antiques. They sit in my garage in Denton, TX awaiting my next craft show. Perhaps some other young family will have children who will enjoy an experience in vintage 1920s school desks. I cannot express how quickly time flies. I was often told this by older neighbors and relatives, but the reality of it only comes with time.
When I first acquired a Mercedes-Benz silver star I thought that there was no point in getting a second example, since M-B has used the same symbol as long as I can remember. The tri-star encircled by a laurel wreath had its origins in the 1800s. Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler had each independently, applied an internal-combustion, gasoline engine to a wheeled vehicle in the summer of 1886, thus each inventing the automobile simultaneously. Initially they operated businesses independently from each other. Daimler used a ringed, three-point star as his company logo and Benz used a laurel-wreath circle, Each had registered their separate company logos in 1909. When the two entrepreneurs merged in 1926, they registered a tri-star in a wreathed circle as the Mercedes-Benz** official logo.
That first ornament that I obtained from eBay was a standing silver star on a plain base without a wreath. Over the next few years I came to realize the subtle variations that had been developed by M-B for display of their circled star. So I decided to acquire a flush-mount logo as shown in the upper right photo. Then I noticed that the star had been mounted to an imitation radiator cap in the late '50s-early '60s, so I needed one of those. At that time my wife and I owned a Mercedes CLK 350 which had a flush=mount badge on the front, so I obtained an example of that.
Sadly, I sold the first one (far right) at a craft fair. But I also had noticed that between the faux radiator cap and the smooth base there was an ornament with the laurel wreath and manufacturer's name, so I sought and won one of those. Then recently I was surprised to see a M-B standing star on eBay that was affixed to an actual radiator cap, complete with threads. The chrome finish was all but completely worn off, exposing most of the base metal. I was surprised to see that the star portion was cast in bronze. The year vehicle it came from was not listed. As is sometimes the case, it was listed by an antiques or "collectibles" dealer who did not recognize its significance and the listing was quite generic. Apparently, another automobilia collector did not see it and I got it for the starting price. I sort of held my breath until it arrived, fearful that it was something other than what I was expecting - but it was not. And is not. I need to contact someone who knows old Benz's and find out what years it is from - probably early 1930s or '20s. Maybe even a pre-M-B Daimler! Probably not.
**You may have wondered why the jointly produced automobile of Daimler and Benz is not called "Daimler-Benz." Before the merger, Mr. Benz had produced a successful racing car which he had named after the daughter of the car's patron, Mercedes. Following his racing success, he wisely built on the car's fame and transferred the name to the cars he was producing. It was the name of the cars that was used in the new company, along with Daimler's eponymous brand name, (That is the rest of the story)
Yesterday was the annual Arts and Autos event at the Historic Courthouse Square. I have exhibited my wares there two or three times past and was signed up for last year, but the day dawned to rain and it continued sprinkling all day. Since it is outdoors, I would get all my wax-finished woodwork wet and would have to re-wax every item, so I stayed away. This year was sunny with, a few fluffy white clouds and the high approached 100, as it has for several weeks. Great for Texans. Much harder on Oregonians.
Gates opened at 6:45. We arrived at 6:40. The sun popped above the horizon right around 7:00. The event itself was 9 AM to 3 PM. We were set up by 8:30.. The public began to arrive on schedule at nine. The band (the Lug Nuts) started playing at ten and went all the way to three, with a few short breaks. They look something like the Beatles with a female drummer. They played pretty much nothing but R&R classics and oldies, so I was well pleased.
This year I made a number of new projects unrelated to the automobile and I assigned about a quarter of my table space to them. Boxes, cutting boards and a chopping block. You can see them on the right in the top picture. I was not able to set out all the automotive pieces that I had with me. Evidently, the ones that I left in the boxes were the ones that people wanted because I did not sell anything. But as usual, I had a number of nice conversations with interested people and gave out quite a few business cards, so perhaps something will develop from the event later.
My feature item at top dead center of the U-shaped display was the 409 valve cover desk lamp. It got some attention from several visitors, but no offer to purchase. To its immediate left was a similar desk lamp with a finned aluminum aftermarket valve cover for an air cooled VW engine. (I had to purchase two of those, but for a good price, so I have two of those made now.). Also to the left is an MGB clock in a solid block of bodark. I like it a lot, but MG fans are not numerous in Texas. The Datsun plaque was made because I have had inquiries for Datsun - I think I will add a clock to it . . .make it more useful. To the right is another item I am proud of - a 1958-9 Corvette headlamp door (bezel) with a clock and thermometer in it (Note the temp on it - it was quite warm under the canopy, so we sat behind under a tree). One visitor suggested that it would be better with a slightly larger wood base beneath it - I think I will give that serious consideration.
There were a lot of really nice cars on display. Good music, as I mentioned. I learned a bit about Denton history and residents from home boys. But with it ending at 3 PM we had to pack up and load out in the heat of the afternoon. Took us two hours and seven minutes. We were both about ready to expire. We had each taken a couple short breaks in the shade to recover before we were finished. There seemed to be a consensus that we don't want to go through this again next year. We had decided a couple years ago not to do outdoor shows, This had been the exception. I am afraid that it is no longer an exception to that rule.
.Since my previous blog of March, I have been able to acquire an even more desirable Nash hood ornament, a 1950-51 flying lady with the signature of the designer imprinted in the cast metal. George Petty was an illustrator of the early 1900s in the vein of Norman Rockwell and Alberto Vargas. Of course, while Rockwell did homey, wholesome art for Saturday Evening Post, Petty and Vargas became famous for their sexy pin-up girls. Petty’s fame grew in the 1930s with his illustrations in the newly created Esquire magazine. In the ’40s his fame as pin-up artist spread as his art was copied onto the nose of military aircraft. The leggy gal on the plane below was perhaps the most famous of many. Notice that her legs are more than half of her total height. While Petty did not invent women’s legs, you might say he reinvented them by stretching them out in his art. (In Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner did somewhat the same with breasts. His centerfolds of the ‘50s and 60s all featured women with much larger than average bosoms.
Crew of the Memphis Belle with the Petty Girl nose art
Nash Motors was founded in 1916 by former General Motors president Charles W. Nash who acquired the Thomas B. Jeffery Company. Jeffery's best-known automobile was the Rambler whose mass production from a plant in Kenosha, Wisconsin began in 1902. Curiously, the Rambler model name outlasted two manufacturers (Jeffries and Nash) and soldiered on into the 1960s with American Motors. AMC was created in 1954 by the merger of Nash-Kelvinator and Hudson Motor Car Co.
Evidently. Post-war Nash decided that hood ornaments, which often featured animals and made a particular brand or model more distinctive, would be a good marketing strategy for them. Before the war there had been a few Art Deco hood ornaments featuring highly stylized women’s forms, but Nash took this to the next level by commissioning realistic figures bereft of clothing. And who better to design such ornaments than George Petty, creator of the Petty Girl of Esquire and WWII airplane nose art fame? Returning soldiers were generally all familiar with his art work. Nash was clever enough to not only commission several designs by Petty, but also to use his widely recognized signature on the ornaments themselves.
Following the war, Nash automobiles offered optional hood ornaments that featured a female figure posed as if flying down the road with the wind blowing her hair with cape flowing behind her. I have so far acquired only one of these ornaments. Depicted below are a 1950-51 Nash hood ornament and two examples of Petty pin-up art. More hood ornament pictures are available for viewing under the “automobilia” tab of this website.
For more detailed information on George Petty & Nash go to the following websites:
Overview of Petty’s hood ornament work:
New York Times article on George Petty’s pin-up art:
Photo history of the Nash automobile:
If you haven’t heard or noticed, since obtaining my own website address outside the Weebly network I have shortened it to “byBuck.com.” If you are looking for classic car related items, you can enter www.byBuck.com/automobilia. If you wish to go directly to this blog: www.byBuck.com/bucks-blog. And so forth for each site page.
Since the Craft Fair in March, I have completed a couple of ornaments that I am particularly pleased with the way they turned out. Both required the use of a lathe for the recreation of original components of an ornament that were missing on the pieces that I obtained. For both I used native Texas mesquite because it is tight-grained, hard and finishes well
The first is something that an attendee at the fair had specifically asked about: a late 1940s Lincoln hood ornament. This 1946 Lincoln ornament required the turning of a perfectly spherical 2” ball, then the carving of the ball to mate with the ornament. Also needed was a short, thin, vertical piece to act as the leading edge of the wedge-shaped chrome wings which form a sort of vee. above the ball And then a long, thin base to sit on – for this I used bodark wood for contrast. All of that set onto a plinth of oak
The second is an ornament I have long admired by Nash. In the late 1950s Nash merged with Rambler and together they rambled on together for another decade and finally folded in the mid-60s. The 1956 Nash Rambler ornament is a wide chrome oval with a pair of spears that pierce the oval, both supporting it while each is mounted to the hood. Again, I was able to obtain only the oval and had to turn matching spears, flatten them slightly top & bottom and mount them to a plinth. All these pieces I made of mesquite
I am still trying new show venues to find those that provide the most effective exposure for my works.