Monday, June 10, 2013

Spring Tour- 2013


As the James Taylor song goes, "I've seen fire and I've seen rain," and that certainly applied to this year's tour! Before we even hit the road, Ted's Garage in Clinton, Illinois, a 50s-themed restaurant where we were to have our Friday night dinner (as a change from the traditional hotel pizza party) burned down on Easter weekend, and Ed Levin and Rose Kovalenko had to quickly rearrange the schedule and find a new place to eat (this time on Sunday evening). Per Ed, 'don't ever mess with the Friday night pizza party or something bad will happen!" Also, this was the week after the severe late April rain/flooding, and the weather forecast was for 80% rain (with possibly flooding) in the Peoria/Decatur area over the weekend, so this tour was the FIRST EVER to have NO 'Little T-Birds' at all on it: we did have two of the newer 'Birds, but the rain drove away the Classics. Despite this, a merry crowd (Ken and Kathy Smizinski, Pat and Jerry Peterson, Liz and Bill Worth, Karen and Larry Kelly, Pete Krarner, Jim Wilson, Laura and Mike Cielenski, Annie Luginbil! and Joel Greenberg, and Rose and Ed) left the Hinsdale Oasis Friday morning heading toward Peoria. On the way we linked up with Judy and Tom Bruin, Soon Hee and Doug Rogers, and Lloyd and Joan Schellin. In Peoria we met Pat and Mitch Mitchell, our Pekin, Illinois members, who brought with them several members of their local T-Bird club (Central Illinois Classic Thunderbirds). We ate lunch together at the Avanti Restaurant in Peoria and then went to the 'Wheels O'Time Museum, in nearby Dunlap, Illinois. This little museum contains a bit of everything... clocks, music machines, autos, a full-size train, a walk-through display entitled "Grandma's Kitchen," another with a barbershop quartet (wearing rubber Halloween masks of various US presidents), and more. Once we had toured the museum, we headed on toward Decatur and the Welcome Inn (and pizza in the Hospitality Room). There Tom Bruin displayed a silly side heretofore unsuspected by many of us; he teased the people behind the check-in counter, as well as some folks in line to check in who weren't even part of the group! We were joined for pizza by Gordon Gluff, who had missed connecting up with us earlier in the day. In the Hospitality Room, Rose was given a Dept. 56 'Palms' building (since she and Ed really love the Palm Court Restaurant, and they were instrumental in setting up the Dudes and Divas dinners - but have never made it to one of them) while Ed received what has come to be known as "the Golden Fluke"- a 24K Racing Champions 1:64 diecast model of a '56Bird...with the Chevrolet logo! Kathy Smizinski had the winning hand in the Poker Run contest and won a $100 Lettuce Entertain You gift certificate.

The following morning, Len and Mary Keil joined us. We learned that the Inn had a pancake machine, and Larry Kelly started making pancakes; he was so good at it that some people thought he should get his own machine! After breakfast, we headed out to the Chevrolet Hall of Fame Museum. There we viewed a number of Chevrolets dating from the 1920s to the present; cars include Impalas, Novas, Camaros, and, of course, Corvettes. This Museum is also a storage area for a number of Chevrolet owners, and various cars get taken out and driven. Ed and Rose had arranged to have our lunch catered at the Museum, and we munched on chicken - while surrounded by Chevrolets; eating was difficult, but somebody had to do it... After lunch we went to the Long Creek Vineyard and Winery in Long Creek, Illinois, for a wine tasting. The kindest thing that can be said about this place (which some thought was created as a tax write-off) is that it was an experience. Pete did buy a container of their wine - which had no label - and Larry, our resident alcohol expert, said that if he had to drink that wine he'd likely stop drinking altogether! We then headed back to the hotel, where a large number of people watched Orb win the Kentucky Derby. (Kathy also won the Derby pool - lucky gal!) Dinner that night was at the best restaurant in Decatur, The Beach House, where menus came printed with the restaurant logo and "Welcome Thunderbird Club of Chicago." There, we had an excellent meal and watched young people in their prom attire as they came and left. Once dinner was through, we went back to the hotel and the Hospitality Room for more camaraderie, food, and drink.

Sunday was a 'free day.' Some people left for home while others went out to eat to celebrate Cinco De Mayo, elected to do antique shopping all day, or went back to the Monticello Railway Museum that Tom and Judy had taken us to last year (when I wrote the 'Strike Four' article about our 'Bird). At the Monticello Railway Museum, once again Tom was quite the comedian and kept us laughing all the way from the museum to the depot in Monticello and back. This group also stopped at an antique mall on our way to the hotel (and browsed but didn't buy). That evening, we went to O'Charley's, a family restaurant down the street from the hotel, where we managed to confuse not only the waitresses, but also the bartender! We then returned to the hotel and the Hospitality Room, where we laughed so hard we had tears in our eyes.

On Monday, we headed home, bypassing the traditional Culver's lunch in favor of getting back to our respective domiciles. Wouldn't you know it - the closer we got to home the sunnier it became. Be that as it may, we had a wonderful weekend (and acquired more material for standing tour jokes), and Ed and Rose did an outstanding job despite the fire and rain!!!

- Annie Luginbill

2013 Tech Session


Saturday, April 27, 2013

Fifteen Thunderbirds filled Bob Wenderski's driveway - from the rear of the property out to Waukegan Rd. - for this annual dust-off event. Mother Nature provided a beautiful spring day from start to finish. Dan Anderson drove his Black '57 Thunderbird with the top off, Gary Smithe -a Red '05 Retro 'Bird, Sue Wenderski - a Vintage Mint Green '04, Lee Bakakos - a Coral Sand '57, Tom Wolfe - a Bronze '57, my Colonial White '57, Len Keil - in a Willow Green '57, Ken Srnizinski - a Green '56, Tom Bruin - in a White '57, Jerry Peterson - a Yellow '57, Joe Wintz - a Gray '57, Joe Esdale drove a Red '57 "E" 'Bird with an interesting late '56 air cleaner, Jim Elijah - a '66 Teal hardtop, Joel Greenberg - a Yellow '55, Gordon Gluff - a Rangoon Red '56, and Lloyd Schellin in a screaming Yellow '66 Falcon.,

Other Club Members in attendance included Joe Kraatz, Pete Kramer, Ed Levin, Bob Lindsten, Dan Mrozek, Dick Murray from AACA, Rich Peterson, Dave Pogorski, Doug Rogers, Len Vinyard and Kami Woody. Bob provided coffee and rolls and the Club library was out for our perusal as Ken Smizinski began the session. The first topic of discussion was the need for zinc in motor oil used in our Thunderbirds to prevent excessive wear on the cam. Shell Rotella T no longer contains zinc. Using a zinc additive in oil defeats the lubrication properties in 1OW40 oil, like mixing medications. Diesel oil contains too much detergent for our use. For preventing excessive metat-on-metal wear, Accel Motor Oil for pre-1988 cars appears to be the answer, Ken then discussed antifreeze. Unless you have a new block, radiator, and heater core, DO NOT use extended life antifreeze. It has chemicals that combined with residue from conventional antifreeze are corrosive to cast iron blocks. He recommends conventional green antifreeze that is available at Carquest and Auto Zone. If you are using extended life antifreeze, drain it out and put in conventional. Extended life is no problem in a new aluminum radiator.

Headlight wiring was the main topic of the Tech-Session. Wires become brittle and insulation cracks due to heat. Oftentimes, all the insulation is gone and you have three raw wires going in to the socket. Remove the headlight bucket, turn the chrome ring, and examine the wires. The red, green, and black ground wire can short out easily if they are exposed and touch. On '55 and '56 Birds there is a short wiring harness for the headlights with a block on both sides. On the '57, the wiring harness is next to the radiator and it is more difficult to access. Ken said in many cases there is nothing left of the wire. There is a short harness on the '57 from the generator to voltage regulator, and a longer harness on the '55 and '56. Wires become brittle and if they short out, everything bums up.

Generators were the next topic of discussion. Two pulleys are found on generators: 2 3/4" and 3". The 3" is correct for the Thunderbird. Many 'Birds have a problem with the generator light staying on at low engine RPM. Ford issued a service letter and suggested putting a diode in the circuit to make the glowing red light go out. In some cars, the red light goes out at 650 RPM, while in some cars it is 1,000 to 1,100 RPM. There is a wide variation in generator output. Using a photo tach to check generators. Ken found that weak generators have a problem with the fields wearing out from age. If a generator is rebuilt, the fields should be replaced. With an alternator, it may take driving to Florida and half way back, to fully charge a battery. A generator may take even longer. Sometimes the '55 generator does not put out enough power to kick in the overdrive solenoid.

Some 1157 replacement bulbs come from the factory with too much solder on the end to fit in the bulb sockets, and the solder must be filed down to make the bulb fit. The electrical ground for the turn signals goes through ceramic blocks to small screws. Cleaning the screws will improve the ground. A replacement for the wiring harness is a partial wiring kit, part # 14401-FX. This replaces all the main wiring coming through the firewall. Wiring under the dashboard is usually OK, but under-the-hood wires become brittle and crack. The way to install the replacement partial wiring harness is to splice and tape the wires one at a time and stagger the splices along the harness wires. Ken concluded by saying he has seen many Thunderbirds with exposed wires and this leads to damage.

The cooling system holds 4 1/4 gallons, 2 water, 2 antifreeze. The aluminum radiator holds 4 1/2 gallons. There is no set time to change antifreeze; it should be changed when dirty. Using CLR will loosen sediment in the block and radiator. When using it, flush the radiator, DO NOT start the car. There is no filter in the antifreeze line to catch sediment. An aluminum plate between the water pump and the block does not help much, while an aluminum radiator DOES provide superior cooling. Ken has found that most temperature sending units read hotter than the car actually is and a mechanical gauge may be the answer. The '57 gauge can be adjusted, (if) the voltage regulator for the gauge acts up.

We then posed for group photos and many of us went to lunch at Oregano's in Hawthorn Woods. After lunch, we viewed Jim Manz' collection of memorabilia and antique cars in two locations, each encompassing everything from Ford Model T's to Lincolns, Mercedes, and Rolls-Royce.

- Jim Wilson

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Director's Report- region 2

Greetings from the CTCI Board of Directors. I think I finally have all Region 2 Chapter addresses for e-mail, plus a few that I send via U.S. Mail.

I would like to share with you some CTCI info from our Annual Board Meeting held in February. CTCI finished the 2012 year strong with a very successful International Convention in Memphis, Tennessee last August. The event generated lots of publicity and the club store sold a significant amount of 50th anniversary merchandise. We ended the year with approximately 5700 members which is similar to last year. Jack Gray was hired as Managing Director last October and has proven to be a valuable asset. He has updated our accounting system, inventory, and policy and procedures manual. Several projects are in development that will relate to member recruitment and Chapter benefits. Unfortunately our 2012 budget ended in the red due mainly to increased personnel expenses and required some supplement from our savings. We also will be over budget for 2013 due to some needed capital improvements and computer replacements. Since most of our revenue is from membership dues a Board working committee to develop a strategy to increase membership was established. I am serving on that Committee. It is possible that a member dues increase will be needed in the future. The 2013 President of the Board is Bill Long, a retired Ford executive from Tennessee; Vice President is Geraldine Nuckels from Texas; Secretary is Sandra Hood from Texas; and Treasurer is Rick Martin from Tennessee. Watch for more CTCI involvement with our Chapters this coming year with a Chapter benefit program and a member recruitment program.

Two Regional Conventions are scheduled this summer. Region 3 will host a Convention in San Jose, CA July 31-August 4 and our Region, Region 2 will host a Convention in West Des Moines, IA. August 21-25 We hope many of you will attend one, especially our West Des Moines Convention. As of this report we do not have a club to host the 2014 Convention and if no club comes forward CTCI itself may need to sponsor the Convention. Many Classic Car Clubs have the national office develop and sponsor their Conventions but CTCI has always had local Chapters volunteer in the past.

One of my goals as your Region 2 Director is to attend one of your Chapter meetings over the next couple of years. A lofty goal at best, but if you would put me on your mailing list for your Chapter newsletters, or e-mail me a copy, I will review your meeting schedules and try to attend one. Also, please contact me with any thoughts or issues your Chapter may have, I really do want to actively represent our Region any way I can My contact info is in the Early Bird and also printed below. I also look forward to seeing many of you at one of the Regionals this summer.


Bob Young, 30196 Old Portland Road, Adel, IA 50003 . : (515) 229-3870

President's Report, June 2013


For Calendar: June 22 Afternoon-Evening Cruise Night - Fox Lake - Tom Bruin

Oct. 13 Day Cruise & Brunch at Crandall's Lake Geneva Museum - Bob Hoge

On behalf of the CTCC Board and Membership I would like to give Rose and Ed a big shout out and thanks for all the work and planning on our recent Spring Tour to Decatur in early May. Unfortunately, the rainy weather precluded driving our Baby 'Birds.

Please review the Events Calendar, as there are some revisions and additions.

"Hemmings Daily" indicated in their last newsletter, that a proposal for increasing the ethanol level to E-30 is being considered by the EPA. Currently, we have 10 % ethanol in our fuel. Even an increase to 15% would be detrimental to our engines, let alone any additional increase. The high cost of corn, plus the cost of production and more pollution, would result in much higher cost and impact on our atmosphere. Please contact your legislator, objecting to any more ethanol percentage increases. There are other extreme concerns about the ever-changing chemical changes to coolants and oil, as indicated in the May-June Early Bird. Ken Smizinski has identified the concerns at our recent tech session. The recent additional reduction in zinc containing oil is a problem. We should be using Accell Motor Oil or a ZDPP additive. Our thanks to Ken, for obtaining a large supply of Accell oil for our members. Ken also recommends using standard, regular green coolant from Auto-Zone. Never use extended life or any coolant with "oal" -only coolants with IAT inhibitors.

Hope to see everyone at the Top Golf event with our Baby 'Birds. Well, that is enough tech stuff for me.

Stay healthy and Drive Safely. - Prez Pete

Art Hahl's '57 Tbird


MY QUEST FOR A TWO-PASSENGER Thunderbird started sometime shortly after their introduction in 1954. Being a bit young at the time, it took till the summer of 1962 for me to finalize the quest! Enter my '57 Thunderbird, Red with a White Hardtop, Red interior, 312 c.i.d., 3-speed transmission, no power anything; it was purchased at Grossinger Pontiac, 3838 N. Western Ave., Chicago, IL.

This was my second car, a daily driver. At that time, I was always reading car magazines, hanging out at Speed Shops, Ray Eriksen's, Von Esser E & R, or McDonald's on Cicero,

In the fall, I read an article about a 406 Tri-Power engine in a 1957 T-Bird; there were 3 pages of pictures, but very little information . It happened in Brooklyn, N.Y., so I wrote a letter to request some information -- no reply.

About that time I heard word of a '62 Galaxie wreck at Illinois Auto on State St. and Archer in Chicago, One quick trip there produced [1] a 406 cubic inch engine, [2] a 3-speed O.D. transmission, [3] a 4:11 Equa-Loc rear end. So, with only 9,000 miles on the engine, I purchased the entire lot for $700.00. January 1963: My good friend, Gary Pierice, and I proceeded to remove the 312 and trans, study pictures and remove obstructions in the engine compartment. Next, came reversing the oil-pan sump and pick-up, also, establishing a remote oil filter set up. The engine and trans were shoehorned into place using the present transmission mounts. Steel plates were contoured to accept the stock engine mounts. The right side exhaust manifold provided to be no problem, but the left side was split between cylinders 5 and 6 to accommodate the steering box,

The engine fit is very close to stock, but a totaled '56 'Bird "donated" hood was used to lengthen the scoop to cover the Tri-Power air-cleaner.

Then, it was a trip to the welding shop to secure the engine-plate; next to Iggy's Muffler Shop for a new exhaust system.

By the end of February, I was back on-the-road with one go-fast Thunderbird! During the rest of the year, I had a few small problems: The biggest was the clutch linkage.

January 1964: The letter from Uncle Sam arrived and the Thunderbird went on blocks; engine oiled, valves seated and gasoline drained.

February 1967: After the BIG snowstorm, it was back home, the 'Bird can fly again! Now, it was time to make it look as good as it ran. It needed quarter-panels, wheel-wells, rocker-panels, bumpers, dash-pad, seat and door-panels, carpeting and a new windshield - all at normal prices - provided by my friendly Ford Dealer, Johnson Ford at 2830 Cicero. Next, it was off to the body shop for a "face-lift," it was a small shop (4-cars) at Halsted & Belmont with the 'Bird to be worked on as "fill-in" time. Time passed slowly, but another '57 'Bird landed on the scene - it was Thunderbird Bronze with a Tan convertible top, White interior with power everything - a California car.

'Bird One was now ready - Highland Green, with a Dark Tan interior. Re-assembly was proceeding, but at a very slow pace, as some speed bumps came along: marriage, house and children. I decided to sell the #2 'Bird, in view of the gas shortage, my job change and picking up small pieces. The #1 'Bird was now parked (undercover) in a corner of the basement.

Time passed to the spring of 1996 and we had a house fire; the 'Bird was not damaged, except for smoke marks on the paint. The house is eventually fixed, and the 'Bird is repainted, but is still not being driven. The original bumpers were re-chromed in 2001 and the engine was pulled in 2005 to be converted for no-lead gas (hardened valve-seats).

In 2009, things really came together; new carpets, headliner, door-panels, padded dash, electric wipers, replacement heater box and hoses. It was late in the year, so I did not fire it up till the spring of 2010.

What we now have is my "personal" car -color, interior, engine and trans, but still looking like a 1957 Thunderbird (my way); all Ford.

Art Hahl