Saturday, 25 February 2017

p1800s update

The last 3 weeks have seen tremendous progress on the 1800s, and I am happy to report that things have been going very well. The kids are fully engaged and working well together. The car is just about stripped down.

We were pleased to see under the rocker cover and find very little mess - just a light coat of crud, and given this has not been used since 86... about as good as we could possibly expect.

Riley’s friend Jakob is 6'6" and always looks a little comical when he is working on the car.

Riley and his friend Adam draining the oil out of the engine. 

The oil tank was peppered with rusted holes, so we decided to cut into it to make sure there wasn’t anything dangerous left inside. We figured it would be fine, but wanted to be safe. We will definitely be looking for a new tank:)

The radiator is out, and a clear shot of the great yellow fan. I am somewhat tempted to leave the fan as it is and not paint it... but Riley gave me ‘the angry eyebrows’ when I suggested it...opinion clearly noted! 

The engine came out without too much trouble. We separated it from the transmission before we removed it not knowing how much gymnastics we would be able to do if we left it attached. 

I have been taking hundreds of photos to document what things look like before we strip the car down. The body is in remarkable shape given its age - especially when you compare it to most of the p1800s restorations people are doing. I am feeling pretty lucky about it.

Riley and Jakob inspecting the B18 engine. 

The rear brakes are drums and the front are disc - a fairly common configuration for this vintage of car.

Still had lots of Mountain Dew.

The rear suspension system has been pulled and set aside. We are going to pull out major elements like this and work on them separately to help keep things organized. Once we start on the rear suspension, we will pull it all apart, replace what needs replacing, prime and paint it, and put it all back together as a completed system.

Kinda looks like a guppy.


It is too bad the seat belts will need to be replaced... love the dated tag.

The engine is coming apart nicely and should be completely pulled apart by the end of the week. I think Jakob and I will then start working on the dash and organizing all the wiring. I am still undecided about buying a new wiring harness, or inspecting this one and keeping it. Most of the cloth wire housing is pretty ratty, but the wires inside it are in better shape than I would have guess. We are labeling everything regardless - as part of the process and to help establish good work habits.



It is pretty amazing what can happen when a bunch of kids are engaged and start working together - so far, I have no regrets about bringing the car to the school to be worked on.

In other news, my shoulder continues to heal very slowly. I have been picking away at a vanity and medicine cabinet for the boys bathroom on the second floor. I am using quarter sawn Douglas Fir for both pieces and posted a short clip of sawing the veneer on Instagram. The medicine cabinet is solid Douglas Fir, with sliding mirrored doors. The case is simple - 3/4" thick, by 5-1/2" wide and dovetailed in the corners. I have been nervously looking towards those dovetails, not entirely sure if I would even be able to cut them. Interestingly, I did a test cut with a Western style saw and it was a disaster - no control and the strength needed for the push stroke was physically painful. My Japanese saw on the other hand was a different matter, and while I was really slow, I was, for the most part, able to do it. The above photo shows the first corner with only one major mishap... on the second pin down from the top... but I can splice in a wedge shaped piece to fill that gap. Given how frustrating the last few months have been and not being able to work, this felt like a pretty massive accomplishment. Between working on the car, and these small victories in the shop, I am starting to remember what I used to be able to do, and feel like it might be possible again some day. 


Anonymous Steve D said...

When you are done with that I have a '67 Alfa GTV for you to work on. I love the P1800 Volvos, especially the wagon version. Looking forward to seeing the progress and I won't be surprised to see a desert ironwood shift knob on the completed project.


27 February 2017 at 09:24  

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Sunday, 29 January 2017

28 years later...

When I was in high school (before there was the Internet:), I had to decide between ‘woodworking shop class’ and ‘auto shop class’. It was a tough call, but I chose the woodworking side of things... but always with an eye into the auto shop class to see what I might have missed. I know I made the right choice, but have always regretted not being able to take both.

Next Tuesday – I have the privilege of going back to my high school, along with our oldest son Riley and take that auto shop class 26 years later.

 I should back up a bit. Last spring I was attending the Lie Nielsen handtool event and the Lost Art Press grand opening in Covington Ky. While I was there, I ran into my friend Don Williams, who very early in the conversation said something to the effect of,  “Hey, I know its not a vintage 911, but I have a 1968 p1800 that you and Riley might be interested in restoring.” It was one of those comments that can pass you by faster than it happened if you are not paying attention. Thankfully... for some strange reason, I was paying attention, and the conversation continued over the next few days. It was hard to contain my excitement. 

Last July, Joe Steiner, Riley and I took a road trip to meet Don just outside Washington DC. We had a bit of a rocky start with the car hauler trailer, but made our way there without incident to find Don waiting for us early the next morning. He had the car already pulled out of storage and this was the first time to really see it.

We were all pretty smitten right off the bat, and while it certainly would need work, the body was in very good shape.

Riley was the first to ‘drive’ it... that is steer as we rolled it onto the trailer. The interior needs to be replaced - it was the primary residence for countless critters since it was parked in 1986. 

1968 was the last year of this dash - with the baby blue dials... much to my delight!

(Riley, myself, Don and Joe) 


The road trip home was uneventful, although we almost lost one of the headlights. Thankfully, a roll of duct tape solved that problem.

I was really stressed about the border crossing, but I have to say, everyone I spoke with on the Canadian customs and the US customs side was incredibly helpful and accommodating, and we were through the process in less than an hour. It certainly helped to do all the background homework etc ahead of time, and if anyone is looking to bring a vintage US car into Canada - feel free to send me a note and I can explain the process. It likely helped that we were at the Windsor/Detroit crossing at 1:00 am too.

We arrived home around 4 am, crashed at our house and were up again way too early for our own good... but wanted to get the car off the trailer and stored.

The first stop was my Dad’s garage. No, he doesn’t own a garage... I just mean his actual garage attached to his house.

Over the next few weeks, Riley and I started removing the interior to get a sense of how much rust there might be in the pans etc. There were a few isolated holes that will need to be cut out and patched, but overall, I was very pleased to see how solid it was.

 I like to think that this little black button by the hand brake was installed by Q.

We moved the car from my Dads garage in the middle of November so he could park his own car out of the snow. We found a short term site for a few months until this past Friday, when we moved it to the high school.


I have been doing a fair amount of research over the last few months including talking to several friends and acquaintances who work on old cars. Their responses seem to fall into one of two distinct camps, ‘You are totally insane for letting any high school students near this car... that will be the fastest way to wreck a classic!’ to, ‘Wow, what a great project and opportunity for you and your son (and friends) to work on a project together - it could change one of their lives!’

I have spent a fair bit of time talking to the instructor about this project, and while there is certainly the danger of the first response happening - I am thinking back to myself in high school and am choosing to hope for the latter. The opportunity for learning and rewards of a great project like this outweighs the fear, and I am willing to take the chance. It is also a great opportunity to  work with Riley (and hopefully Lucas at some point), on a project together. 


In other news, I had a pretty significant left shoulder/arm/hand injury in early December. There wasn’t a specific event - just too much working on the house and in the shop without any breaks or time off. It appears to have been a bit of a perfect storm for an injury because multiple areas were affected. I have seen a good friend who is an orthopedic surgeon, had x-rays, ultra-sound, been to acupuncture, massage therapy, an osteopath and our voodoo doctor - all of them assure me that I will recover from this. What is not known is how long it will take, and to what extent.

Right now, the biggest challenge is the pronation of my left hand. Pronation is the ability to rotate your hand in when your elbow is at your side. This lack of movement has affected my ability to type (which has improved enough to write this), but writing and drawing are still very challenging and not very pretty.

It has been a little over 8 weeks and I am just now getting into the shop to do some very basic, non planemaking tasks. The fine motor skills required for planemaking are likely going to take some time, but I will use this forced down time to do other things... like go back to school and pretend I am 17 again... and learn something totally new... which when I think about it - is pretty awesome.


Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

I think that if you are involved in this project and able to speak with the young people working on it they will come to understand that this is not just another hunk of metal. Show them that they can take pride in the work of their own hands and you need not fear the result.

29 January 2017 at 22:33  
Blogger nbreidinger said...

Such a cool project! I didn't realize you picked this up from Don Williams. What a small world we woodworkers live in! Ad I totally agree with the latter. If those kids are taught the respect needed for this fin classic, I think you'll find they have more reverence for it than many of your peers. Looking forward to the updates on this and I hope you continue to recover well!

30 January 2017 at 09:39  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Kevin.

I am looking to be very involved in this project - front to back. The timing is terrible given my injury and being off work for so long, but the show must go on as they say. The shop instructor and are very much on the same page with the goals for this and have spent hours talking about it. We are going to be presenting the project tomorrow after lunch.


30 January 2017 at 10:22  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Nathan,

Yeah, it was Don's daily driver until 86 when he parked it. I am not sure how many people get the connection, but it was a really cool moment when he suggested it to me. This is one of those great cases where everyone wins. I am hoping that Jill and I, or Riley and I will be able to take a road trip in the car to visit Don when it is all done... that would be pretty cool for him to be able to see it and drive it again.


30 January 2017 at 10:25  
Blogger John said...

Great to see your article again. I enjoy your blog. Hope everything turns out for you with the shoulder. My prayers are with you.

1 February 2017 at 08:53  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks John.

1 February 2017 at 10:40  
Blogger Richard Hunter Wallace III said...

Hey Konrad,

Had a VERY similar thing with my shoulder/arm in November.
Did all the things you did to no avail. Finally got an MRI
and they found a ruptured disc in my neck. My neck didn't even
hurt! Had surgery on it 2 weeks ago and it feels like nothing was ever wrong.
I HOPE yours is just overworked. And it IS kinda messed up not being able to
do the everyday things we do, huh?
Good luck, with the car, the shoulder and getting back to work.


3 February 2017 at 14:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Rich,

Thanks for your comments - I really appreciate it. I have been improving, but it is slow. Did you improve at all with the phsyio and other treatments?
Yeah, it sucks not being able to work - for a variety of reasons. It is amazing how one can place a sense of personal worth and value on the ability to work and be productive... or not. The mental game has been as significant as the physical game.


6 February 2017 at 08:42  
Blogger Jonas Jensen said...

I fall into the category of people who thinks that letting young people work on a car like this is a great idea.
You can expect a lot more initiative and interest if the car is special compared to an ordinary beat up modern commuter car.

I am sure it will be a success.

I also hope that Riley will make some better looking tailpipes. Those original ones were never pretty in my opinion.

Brgds and good luck with the project

Jonas (who drives a 1963 and a 1967 Volvo Valp)

7 February 2017 at 08:57  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Jonas,

Thank-you for the encouragement. I am heading to the school in a few hours to begin the process of removing the engine. I am really excited about it as is Riley and a few of his close friends who are also involved. It should be a good afternoon.

Yes, the entire exhaust system will be replaced and I will pass along your comment to Riley:)

Best wishes,

7 February 2017 at 10:19  
Blogger Troy Staten said...

Good luck with your recovery and with you and your sons project, will look forward to seeing how the car turns out.

7 February 2017 at 17:21  

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Sunday, 17 July 2016

a 'spare' K13 in Desert Ironwood

Most of the Desert Ironwood I work with is highly figured, but this set has always caught my attention. I have walked past it hundreds of times, and often stopped to pick it up. It reminded me of ribbon striped Mahogany - just in a brown tone instead of red.

A few months ago, I decided to start working on it as a spare plane – picking away at it here and there. I just had to see what tame Desert Ironwood would look like. 

It has not disappointed – incredible chatoyance from heel to toe, and a wonderful beauty mark on the front pad thrown in for good measure. Here are several detail photos.



This beauty mark showed up our of nowhere. There was no indication that this was just below the surface - what a happy accident!

The sides and sole are 01 tool steel and the lever cap and screw are stainless steel.  The plane is 13-3/8" long with a 2-1/4" wide, PMV-11 blade, custom made by Lee Valley. The bed angle is 47.5 degrees.The price is $4,600.00 Cdn + actual shipping costs (roughly $3,675.00 USD based on the current exchange rate). Let me know if you are interested -

Ok. Back to renovating!


Anonymous Dave Beauchesne said...

Love the refinement and finish Konrad - nice to see, and inspiring to do better at each turn.
Superbly executed!

Dave Beauchesne

2 August 2016 at 22:55  
Blogger Jürgen Becker said...

What happen? I don't see any news more. The last years I was looking of these blog . Hope to get a reply.

best regards

J. Becker

26 January 2017 at 12:36  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hello Jurgen,

Yes, sorry for the lack of posting. I have been nursing a shoulder injury which has thrown planemaking into a bit of a mess. I hope to write an entry soon.

26 January 2017 at 15:38  

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Monday, 11 July 2016

Two K4’s - one spare & home renovations

Things are really hopping at the moment - so much so that blogging seems to have taken a back seat for a while. This will change fairly quickly - two new restoration projects have just begun. One is our house, the other a bit of a surprise project that is out of left field, but something we are all very excited about. More on that a bit later.

I have just completed two Desert Ironwood filled K4 planes. The one with the bronze lever cap and screw is spoken for, but the darker one with the stainless steel lever cap is available for sale. 

The K4 with the bronze lever cap was really fun to make - it is configured the same way as my own K4 - the prototype (the link will take you to photos of the prototype beside other planes for size and scale reference).  It felt like I was ‘my plane’ again. This is the smallest plane I make (so far:), and makes a block plane look pretty huge. The K4 is 4-1/2" long and has a 1-1/4" wide, high carbon steel blade. The bed angle is 52.5 degrees and the sides and sole are 01 tool steel.

The spare K4 has some really striking dark Ironwood burl. This plane is $2,150.00 Cdn + actual shipping cost. Email me if you are interested -

And the first of the two renovation projects - our house. The second floor to be specific. One of my first blog posts was about renovating the second floor sunroom - that was in 2007. It is time for us to gut the rest of the second floor. The floors, walls, ceilings - everything. We have never rented a bin before, so the big green beast should be a good indication of the scale of the job. I will post photos of the progress as we go.


Anonymous job said...

Sounds like a fun project (2nd floor). Plaster removal is astonishingly messy. But satisfying. In our house, I found the best system was knocking the plaster loose of the lathe with the side of a hammer & shoveling up the plaster with a snow shovel. Then pull the wood lathe off and bundle it up. Then clean up the last of the plaster bits.

I really hope you don't have metal lathe! It's a much bigger pain. But the same basic method works well. What works better is a circular saw with a metal cutting blade (negative rake carbide), and cut it into sheets. I found ~3x3' squares a good size to be able to handle.

And the planes look fantastic!

11 July 2016 at 08:54  
Blogger Konrad said...

Thanks Job.

It is shockingly messy work. We have done it before - and here we are doing it again:) We are shoveling out the separated plaster and down the chute it goes into the wheel barrow and then into the bin. A little extra work, but we were not able to get the bin below the window. Once we have filled the bottom with all the plaster, we will toss the lathing and other waste on top of the pile. So far, so good.


12 July 2016 at 07:00  
Blogger Chris Bame said...

Love the planes. Boy that dumpster sure looks like hard labor!!!
Can't wait to see what you do up there.

12 July 2016 at 16:17  
Blogger suzanne said...

Thanks for the beautiful plane. It was exciting to watch you build it. Good luck with the renovation.
Take care,

15 July 2016 at 09:02  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Konrad I was wondering if you could write a article on how you dovetail the curved sides on your planes
I LiI've in Australia and am making planes for myself and would love to know how you make your butifull planes
Thanks Alex

17 July 2016 at 03:10  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Chris,

Yes - hard labor it has been:) But we are almost done the gutting, and we are feeling tired, but pretty good that we can still do it - it has been a long time since we have done serious renovations.


17 July 2016 at 07:44  
Blogger Konrad said...

Good morning Suzanne,

You are most welcome - it was a pleasure to make it for you. Glad you enjoyed watching the build.

Best wishes,

17 July 2016 at 07:45  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Alex,

I have often wondered about the right way to show this process - written instructions, photos... but I have concluded that video might be the most valuable way to do it. A large undertaking, but my oldest son is getting pretty good behind a camera, so if I can convince him to take this one - we might be able to put something together. I am not sure if you are in instagram or not, but I have posted quite a few short videos of the planemaking process.


17 July 2016 at 07:47  

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