In 2000, Monte Glud decided to embark on a total restoration of his Packard 120-B Convertible Sedan. He had purchased the car in 1994 and had the engine rebuilt by Jim Classen in 1995. Classen was known for his quality workmanship and familiarity with Packard engines.
“Jim agreed to let me help on the rebuild,” said Monte. “Not only because I like working on things, but I wanted to help tear it down and see all that was wrong, and that was interesting. These cars didn’t come with an oil filter (we have since installed one, of course) and when we pulled the pan we found that it was thick with sludge.”
Until the early 1950s, cars used non-detergent motor oil and had either bypass oil filters or no filter at all. Oil refining techniques were less sophisticated and motor oil contained more wax. As a result, old engines were often full of black, wax-like sludge. The additives in modern detergent oil suspend soot and other impurities until the oil passes through a full-flow filter, or until the oil is drained, so engines stay cleaner, and last longer.
“In addition to a waxy buildup, the engine had picked up a lot of dirt and other particulates,” said Monte. “We had to send the block and the parts out not once, but twice to get them cleaned--that’s how gummed up it was.”
While Jim Classen continued to work on engine, Monte made arrangements with restoration specialist Dave McCready to begin restoring the rest of the car.
Disassembly and Blasting
“On the first of August, I hauled it over to Dave’s house and we tore the whole car down. In two days we had everything off the car--it was stripped down to a body and frame. Then we started sandblasting it. That wasn’t fun. My job was to hold a square house fan and a Maglite, which is hard to do at the same time, and direct it to wherever he was aiming the sandblast. Every once in a while I’d miss my aim and he’d sandblast my hand, which didn’t feel good. And this went on for days.”
It’s important, after the blasting, to prime the bare metal as quickly as possible to prevent rust. Some shops try to seal the metal within hours of paint removal.
“Later on we blasted all the bolts. I ran a die over them and tapped the holes in the body,” said Monte. “I put grease in the flutes of the tap to help pull the sand out. For a long time after the restoration was complete, I’d come to a stop sign or stop light and notice a pile of sand on the road behind me. It took a while to get rid of it.”
Before long Dave suggested that Monte take the Packard’s interior home to store until the upholstery shop was ready to start. When he arrived home with the old upholstery, he noticed movement in the back of his truck.
“There were all these mice jumping around and I’m not much of a killer of things, but I was so darn mad! I killed six of them with a hammer before I got them all. The seats smelled so bad, it was just horrible! So I put them in my wife’s Taurus station wagon and went over to the Chrysler dealer, because I had heard somebody had died in a car and the Chrysler service people were able to get the smell out. It turns out they have a deionizer machine, which they put in the window of the Taurus. It was in there only one night but the Packard seats and my wife’s Taurus ended up smelling fresh as a daisy.
“Eventually, I took the interior parts to Guy’s Interior Restorations and had it all redone in chestnut-brown leather.”