Best of 2020 – Random Stuff Classics: Grandpa Nick’s Basement Stash – Grandpa Was A Tinkerer, Too.

I thought of my paternal grandpa as an old guy from the moment I met him until he passed away at the age of 92 in 2003.  It sounds cruel until you do the math: Grandpa was 37 when my dad was born, and my dad was 28 when I was born.  By the time I was aware of him, Grandpa was a 70-year-old man who was hard of hearing and never tried hearing aids.  Therefore, he and I never had any deep conversations, but he was my dad’s dad, and I love my dad, so I have a soft spot for Grandpa Nick as a result.  Plus, any mechanical ability that nature has bestowed upon me comes right down that line of the family tree, so I’m thankful for that.  Other than genetically influencing my entire life with that skill set, what else did Grandpa leave me with?

In 2009, six years after my grandpa, my grandma passed away, leaving my dad and uncles a house full of a lifetime of stuff, as most of us eventually do.  Since my grandpa was a tinkerer, he had a few random parts and manuals lying around his basement, and my dad brought them home for me because he’s a cool guy and I’m an easy target for old junk he doesn’t want.  In April, I decided to take a few pictures of some of the treasures that Dad found a decade ago.  My favorite is the owner’s manual for Grandpa’s 1962 Ford truck.  I’ve only seen one picture of the truck itself, and it wasn’t the subject of the shot, but Grandpa didn’t seem like much of a photography buff anyway.

Inside the manual is this warranty sheet for a remanufactured engine, installed in December of 1964 with a full 62,438 miles on the odometer.  My first thought is that a bad engine at that mileage doesn’t say a lot for the truck, or maybe for my grandpa’s maintenance schedule.  My second thought is that my grandpa drove that truck a lot over the course of two years.  Of course, I don’t know if he bought the truck new or used, and my dad isn’t sure either.

In the goody bag, there were also these nice Autolite Parts and Accessories reference catalogs, which are much more interesting than they appear.

The catalogs are full of exploded component diagrams for all kinds of 1960s Fords, which is convenient because I own two.

Along with the illustrations are lists of part numbers and interchangeability charts.

I first thought I had stumbled upon a part I could use – a reconditioned fuel pump for an FE Ford.

Unfortunately, my ’63 Thunderbird has a 390 from a ’61 full-sized Ford, and neither the car nor the engine are listed on the box.  Given Ford’s propensity to change parts mid-year, there is no guarantee that this will fit, and it would certainly need an ethanol-friendly rebuild anyway.  I assume this is my dad’s spare part; he drove a ’63 Galaxie 500 convertible with a 352 back in the mid-’60s.  Dad sometimes gives me a hard time about the 289 cylinder heads and 8″ Ford center sections I have left sitting in his garage for the past two decades, but it might be that I got that habit from somewhere.

An unusual part is this hand throttle control in this very well-preserved box.

I don’t think it’s ever been installed on a car (or truck), and I don’t know why anyone in the family would have it, but it’s here.

There are quite a few carburetor kits for Autolite 2100 two-barrels in the parts hoard, along with some water pump rebuild kits for engines I can’t imagine anyone in the family having (Lincoln 430s by my memory – those are stashed in my garage attic).

This one looks used, which is fine with me because I save all my old carburetor gaskets, too.  You never know.

Here’s an outlier, a K-Mart tune up kit for ’62-’72 Chryslers.  Grandpa, like my dad, was mainly a Ford guy, but my grandma drove a ’69 Newport well into the 1980s.  I know this because I remember it vaguely in its 1969-approved army green (and my memory on the year and color might be a year and a shade or two off).  If my Dart still had points, I could use these!

There are the obligatory maps…

…and old license plates.

Perhaps the most interesting piece of hardware in the bag is this Mallory coil.  I have no clue what kind of car it would fit, but it’s pretty old.

I have far more stuff than my grandpa had, but I had a fun time looking into his past a little bit and thinking about what he drove.  He never seemed to have anything very exciting, basically a series of Ford trucks, vans, and full-sized cars, along with that lone Chrysler that snuck into the fleet, but I held out hope that the old ’62 had a 292.  Dad dashed my hopes when I asked him today – he remembers its being a six-cylinder – but I still must give a tip of the hat to Grandpa Nick, a fellow family member who liked to tinker.