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Barnstormer and ChiZer Push start and run at Cordova 8.24.13
In mid 1962 Tom Ivo and Rod Peppmuller teamed up to build the chassis for Ivo's first Top Fuel car. Tom and Rod used a chassis design that is referred to as a "3 point" car, because of the roll bar configuration which Kent Fuller is credited with originating.
Tom saw a possible business opportunity and actually used this car as the prototype for a production chassis company. Something over a dozen Ivo-Peppmuller cars were built and buyers included Jerry Baltes, John Wenderski, Red Lang and the Dead End Kids, Mickey Thompson (3 cars), Tony Nancy, Orange County Metal Processing, Tom McCourry, Ed's Muffler Shop, Cope Brothers/Cook and finally, Arvy Mack at The Big Wheel Auto Store in Minnesota. This (The Big Wheel) is actually the car that Ron Johnson bought in late 1965 and ran in Top Fuel.
The Top Fuel chassis had a wheelbase of 124" and was immediately distinguishable from other similar cars, due to the extremely long radius rods, nearly 5 feet in length.
Here is the car in final assembly stages as it was initially campaigned. It had aluminum 12 spoke front wheels and an Enderle Barndoor injector. The permanent cowl had been made and installed but the back of the body was sheet aluminum wrapped and screwed to the chassis. Tommy kneels by the front of the engine and Dave Zeuschel stands behind.
Dave had an appearance lined up for $500 at Seattle to participate in an event that would include Garlits. The event was a part of the Seattle Worlds Fair which Tommy really wanted to go to. The car was hurriedly completed and on the Wednesday night prior to the two day Seattle event, Tom and Dave took the car to San Gabriel for a shakedown run.
Here, Dave and Tom stop for a break on the trip to Seattle in 1962. That's Mt. Rainer in the background.
Here Dave Zeuschel readies the motor for the first run at Seattle.
Here the hastily installed temporary body is evident. Ivo is working on getting the car ready. Notice, the slicks are still new with the mold line evident so this has to be before the very first competition run.
Here at Seattle on July 1, 1962, one of the very first runs on the car, which would ultimately persevere as one of the longest running competitive cars ever fielded in Top Fuel. Arguably it has the most colorful history. It was at the top of it's class running the first ever 7 second run only a few races after it was built. It ran the first 190 mph runs on the West Coast at a number of tracks. It spent four years competing in match races and competition events at practically every track in the country, which is how it earned the nickname "Barnstormer"!. It became a movie star in the cult favorite Bikini Beach along with Frankie Avalon, Annette Funicello and an all star cast including Tommy Ivo. It was an international celebrity, along with it's owner, competing in the initial England tour of 1964 along with Don Garlits "Swamp Rat" and "Mooneyes" driven by Dante Duce. It and Ivo raced until the March Meet at Bakersfield in 1965 and was a feared competitor right up to the end. Another week and more progress.
Here Tom and Dave Zeuschel pose for a picture on the return from Seattle where they spent a full week exploring the Worlds Fair.
Two weeks after the debut at Seattle, the car ran for the first time in Southern California, at Long Beach, and now the tail section is installed. The "Chute-pack" tail had originally been built for the twin-in line Buick powered car but never installed, so the Barnstormer chassis dimensions duplicated that car in the roll cage area so the body would fit properly.
After the Long Beach outing, Tom and Dave spent some time further refining the car. Since the car handled well from day one, Tom felt comfortable stepping up the tune-up. Here he is at San Gabriel, front wheels cocked hard right. That's Zeuschel or "Z" as he was called standing behind the car. By the way, there are some famous shots of drivers like Norm Weekly, Don Moody and others in the same wheels turned poses but they were later, Ivo did it first! Just couldn't help being a Showoff! What do you want to bet he's grinning behind the mask?.
Tommy raced Chris "The Greek" Karamesines in the Chizler at one of the very early outings for the car. This was the beginning of the last season for the "204" Chizler and just a few weeks into the career of the Barnstormer.
A better look at the progress. The tail section was mounted but the windshield was the early version. Eventually extra sections of windshield would be added along the sloping sides of the tail section. Still running the Barndoor injector, the car is on the trailer at the end of the day at Bakersfield.
Tom went to Bakersfield quite often. His smile suggests that all is going well. It was going well, as a matter of fact. This was taken on September 2 and Tommy set and backed up the top speed record for the track at 187 mph with a good e.t. of 8:16.
On September 22, Tommy challenged the outstanding Olds fueler of Porter and Reis at Fontana for the # 3 spot on the Drag News Mr. Eliminator list. He won the match race and was on the cover of Drag News the next week.
With a new Enderle injector and new unpainted nosepiece, the car gets some water at Pomona in 1962.
Some more time has passed and the car now has lettering, however it is the earliest version of the lettering on the nose with just Valvoline.
Tom McCourry and Ivo at the beginning of the 1962 tour. Note the fuel cans and tool/parts box on the state-of-the-art trailer.
When asked how he went out on a national tour with nothing more than an open trailer and a Cadillac Ivo responded...
"Yes, we used the open trailer in '62 and '63. I got the idea for building the one with the glass sides from the bus with huge glass windows in it, that they took us from track to track in England in 1964.
Nope ---- no block in the trunk. There was a complete motor in the black steel box mounted on the tongue of the trailer. The blower and mag weren't installed. BUT ---- the long block, complete to rocker cover (valves adjusted) and manifold was in there with all kinds of engine parts (like the blower) packed around it in all the spaces between the block and the walls of the box.
The trunk had the tool box (good sized and packed with tools) and miscellaneous parts like gaskets, etc. The suit cases went in the trunk and back seat. The first tour (1960) with The Worm (Prudhomme), everything was in the trunk, except two short blocks hung under the car between the trailer frame rails. Then we had a canvas U-Haul thing on the roof of the '57 Cad. Not exactly today's John Force operation ---- but it was in those days!
You bet it had some tongue weight! Those "Ezelift" torsion bars that hooked onto the trailer hitch were bowed to the max."
This Drag News cover shows the reading on the Chrondek timer, 7.99. The first Seven second run officially recognized by Drag News as a Standard 1320 record took place on October 24, 1962 at San Gabriel. Drag News used an old picture of the car for the cover shot.
One of the cars Tommy's "Speed Specialties" built was for the Cope Brothers from San Diego. They ran the car in Top Fuel with Emery Cook driving.
In 1962 a new track started operating on a taxi strip at the Ramona Airport. Ramona is about 20 miles Northeast of San Diego and the track was called San Diego Raceway. We believe this picture was taken at the very first event ever held there, and this is Tommy in the right lane and the Cope Brothers/Cook in the near lane. According to Tim Cope (son and nephew of the Cope Brothers), they won this race and it was one of the highpoints of their career.
(An interesting tidbit for trivia fans. Cope Brothers switched to a "Shower Head" style Enderle Big Catcher shortly after this picture was taken. The Cope family still had it and it has changed hands and will be going on to the Barnstormer later in 2007).
Tires blazing, headers not chromed yet and nose not repainted, Tommy makes a late Winter pass at a California track in 1962.
At Bakersfield early in 1963, Tommy talked with Romeo Palamides about setting up a match race between his new dragster and the Jet Car, which was driven then by Glenn Leasher. The race was booked into San Gabriel but before the race took place, Leasher lost his life in an accident at Bonneville. Bob Smith (aka Jet Car Bob) drove the jet against Ivo and after the match Palamides offered Tommy the seat, but he declined and stuck with the Top Fuel car. Smith stayed with Romeo for years to come. The success of this race prompted Ivo to arrange with the San Gabriel track operators to host a match race between Ivo and Greer-Black-Prudhomme shortly afterwards.
After the successful match race with the Untouchable, Tommy was booked back to San Gabriel for a match race with Greer, Black and Prudhomme. Ivo and Prudhomme were now fierce rivals, where they had once been close friends.
Ivo vs. Don Prudhomme in the Greer & Black car. This best two of three event produced the first ever run with both cars in the sevens.
Here's another shot of the Barnstormer on the left and Greer, Black and Prudhomme on the right.
Tom bought a 1963 Riviera for a tow car and had the Riv and Barnstormer painted alike. For the first time, Tom moved away from Ivo red and did both in a very pretty Dark Red metalflake.
Tom also built a new trailer for the 1964 season. Here Tom and Tom McCourry ham it up.
Also in 1964, Tommy was given the opportunity to be an off-screen staff person in the making of the Bikini Beach movie, which has become a cult favorite with many people. The Barnstormer was hired for on-screen work as was the famous 4-motor car. In the poster above, the Barnstormer is in the center of three dragsters.
Here Tommy is explaining something to Keenan Wynn and Martha Hyer. Keenan was a car and motorcycle fancier of the first order. In the background is the pickup truck of Airline Auto Sales, which was the tow vehicle for one of their many top fuel dragsters.
Here Tommy is posed with Annette Funicello, who, like Tommy, cut her acting teeth as a member or Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club. There's hardly a 55+ year old alive doesn't remember the Mouseketeers and Annette!
Keenan Wynne and his assistant are posed with the Barnstormer. This shot provides us with an excellent look at the headers which are somewhat unique and will be a challenge to duplicate.
During the filming of the movie Tommy lined up with Don Prudhomme in the famed Greer-Black car. Here Don Rickles (Big Drag) does a flag start.
In September of 1964 Ivo along with a handful of other prominent American drags racers embarked on a journey to take drag racing to foreign shores for the Blackbushe Drag Fest, Hampshire, England. First visit of the U.S. team to the UK for a series of six meetings. Organised by BDRA Chairman Sidney Allard and the legendary Wally Parks of the NHRA, the American drivers and the best of the Brits battled it out in front of a 20,000+ crowd. The American line up consisted of the AA fuelers of Don Garlits and 'TV' Tommy Ivo, the blown gas dragsters of Bob Keith (Dos Palmos) and Tony Nancy with the revolutionary rear engined 8 litre Plymouth rail 'The Wedge' as well as his '22 Junior' Chevy rail, the two monstrous Willys coupes of K. S. Pittman (7.5 litre blown Chrysler) and 'Ohio' George Montgomery (6 litre blown Chevy), two forerunners of the funny cars in the factory experimental cars of Ronnie Sox (Mercury Comet) and Dave Strickler (Dodge), the rear engined Porsche rail of Doug Church, the AA/Modified Moonbeam sports car driven by Dante Duce and finally the motorcycles of Bill Woods (Harley Davidson) and Don Hyland (Triumph).
All the cars had to be transported by ship to the UK and Ivo's trailer was too big to go into a cargo hold so it had to be lashed to the front deck. On the way over, the weather got very bad and the ship was rolling heavily. The Captain reportedly told Tommy that if any of the lashings broke, rather than try to re-secure the trailer, it would be cut loose and shoved overboard. Needless to say, Ivo was more than a little worried until the weather abated.
Drag racers in suits? Whatever will we see next. Here, a few of the racers on their way to England aboard the USS (America?) are dressed for dinner. Left to right, Tom McCourry, Tony Nancy, Steve Swaja, Ronnie Sox, Tom Ivo and Buddy Martin.
Ivo and Wally Parks with a piece of English "Safey Safari" equipment.
Ivo, with help from local "mechanics" (all wore white coveralls), works on the Barnstormers 392 hemi.
Tommy prepares for an exhibition run. There were six events staged over the last week in September and the first week in October. All were held at RAF airstrips. Volunteer vehicles had to be fitted with push boards and their drivers quickly educated on the correct way to push start a fuel dragster.
Ivo at Blackbushe with the Phelps' Plymouth push car behind.
Both Garlits and Ivo autographed this picture of a race during the 1964 England tour for Fred Babcock, who generously allowed us to use it as part of the Barnstormer history. Garlits commented that he and Ivo staged to do Battle. Ivo, puckishly, added the succinct comment "I Won" to his signature.
This is from when Ivo was in England in 1964. It was the last round between The Garlits and Tommy for the best of the 5 races win. At this point they had each won 2 races. As this photo shows, Ivo wasn't about to let up under any circumstances. The thing was so crabbed over, it had the right front wheel of the ground, instead of the left wheel from the torque as usual. Plus you can see by my hands, the steering wheel was way over center. Tires blazing and the throttle wide open. The effort payed off as Ivo won 3 out of the 5 races.
These two shots were taken in the pits at Pomona during the 1965 Winternationals. These are the best color photos we have seen of the car.
Al Johnson Collection
These are the last known photos of the car taken at Bakersfield in March of 1965. Below, in his own unparalleled words, Tom Ivo tells why a recreation is necessary as this car long ago vanished.
"I ran the car for the last time at the '65 March meet to show the new owner that he was buying a living, breathing race car. Bud Bailey from Chicago, a friend of Ron Pellegrini --- that should tell you something right there (but, again, I won't go there). A couple of years ago, when GMP was going to make the diecast model, Bud told me he still had the car. But when the GMP guys flew in to measure it, he wouldn't let them in the garage, because he said, if he did that, "everyone" would copy the model and make one just like it. I later found out, after offering his sister $400,000 for the car if she could get it away from him, that the car had fallen off the edge of the earth years and years before that!
The England '64 trailer was sold and I was just putting the final touches on the first glass trailer for the coming season. I was also just finishing the Streamliner (which got ash canned not too much later when it didn't work ---- a grim off season it was that year) I borrowed this tow car AND trailer to get up there and give Bud my road test of the car. I know it wasn't my trailer because I never had a tire mount like that. (now you come up with a picture of one of my trailers with a tire mount) <grin> NOT!
An interesting side bar. It was a two day meet and we lost the clutch (not an explosion, just a malfunction) AND --- I could only get a "stock" clutch from Hashim. The car ran quicker that it had ever run by a good margin (no, I don't know the exact ET).
I went back and told Schiefer of the phenomenon (I said it ran good, but boy did it put some wear on the clutch). I was wondering why he looked so pale in the face. It's seems like I had fallen on Keith Black's trick of sliding the clutch and smoking the tires at the same time.
It really made me upset with him when I finally found out the truth, because ---- he didn't have to tell me what was going on, but he also didn't need to steer me away from it. He said he'd build me an "extra heavy duty" lockup clutch so it wouldn't wear to much. Keith sold more parts than I bought --- well actually he gave me my parts. How small of him. I'm glad I went to a Hays clutch when I found it out.
But back to the story ---- with all the hassle of the Streamliner trying to run backwards down the track and the subsequent "thrash" of getting another car done in one week, to leave on tour, I was way beyond trying a new clutch combination for myself to see why it did what it did. I'm lucky to have started the tour on time.
So now you know the rest of the story!
Your hero and mine, TV
PS. When you see the gold stripe across the nose where the axle is located. It's after mid 64 when that showed up. I had it at the New York Worlds Fair for a few mid week days, and when I came back to pick it up. Someone had tried to lift up the front of the car to see how heavy it was. AND ---- picked it up by the body (nose of course) so he wouldn't hurt anything. When I showed up, it looked like a Rhinoceros car with it's nose sticking up straight in the air. SIGH!!! It was impossible to find someone back East that could touch up candy apple paint. So we just straightened it out and put a gold trim paint cover on it. AFTER THAT I ALWAYS PUT A NOTE ON THE NOSE OF THE CAR NOT TO "LIFT HERE" WHEN IT WAS ON DISPLAY!!!"
This is the last known photo of the car. Bud Bailey at Bakersfield in 1965.
The Barnstormer (aka Barney) restoration is being done by Ron Johnson with blessings, advice and guidance from "TV Tommy" Ivo. The project started in November of 2006 and is scheduled for completion prior to the Summer of 2007.
Enjoy: The Diary of a Recreation
as told by Ron Johnson
November, 2006 - parts collection began.
December, 2006 - the chassis is underway at Alex Mikkelsen's shop. I was up there today and we went over the plan drawing I made, the sketches (with dimensions) that Rod Peppmuller made and provided Ivo with, plus we reviewed prints of many of the pictures that I and Alex had printed out, from the CD of the Barnstormer that Ivo provided me with.
We are going to narrow the shoulder hoop a little right at the back by tapering it from the hip upright. With this done we should be right where we need to be to have the body match the original. We're fooling with the roll cage a little to make it more accommodating for a larger person, while not changing the dimensions that Peppmuller gave us or changing how the body will look. I should send a picture of how Ivo looked when he ran this car. He says he had to run around in the shower to get wet. I don't even want to go there. But the body will be right.
Jim Diest is making a chute pack for me. He will also turn the military surplus 16 foot ring slot into a drag chute. I went there with Ivo as he is having Diest make a chute for the 4 motor car. It turns out that Ivo was one of his first sponsored drivers. It was a surprise to learn that one of the first chutes Diest made ended up on the Greeks car. All of this plus Diest and Ky Michaelson are close friends put me in good stead with Diest, although we had never met before. Chute problems solved.
Tom Cirello shipped me a Schiefer mag, rebuilt to at least as good as new. Jim Swedberg sent Bob McKray one of his special 392 oil pumps. Loukas sent McKray a 354 oil pan with "history"! It had a repaired hole where a rod poked it's little head out. Chico at Mooneyes was able to provide a 5 gallon Moon tank with brackets and some breathers for the M/T rocker arm covers. Ted at TDK is making a new P & S steering unit which should be done next week. The guys at Rocker Arm Specialties have redone the set of Donovan rockers and stands, setting them up for the right pushrod ends and oiling process. Sweddy is doing a blower that will put out some wind and that will be on it's way to McKray pretty soon.
I have a new Enderle Bug catcher coming from Walt Austin. I don't like using questionable used units. If there is a component that can cause an unexpected "eruption" it is the injector/barrel valve setup.
Anyway, back to Barnstormer. It's moving along. Soon the chassis will go to the body builder. No, his name is not Arnold!!!
12-18-06: Alex is pushing forward with the chassis project. In these shots you can see he has the upper and lower mains all the way to the front. Rear end in place. We have studied the dimensions that Peppmuller provided and this is pretty accurate. In order to have room in the drive train for a disconnect device, we had to make it an inch or so longer than he showed between the motor plate and rear end, so sue me. No, don't sue me! That's what I am trying to stay away from by putting a disconnect in the drive train. We'll use basically the same device as is now in Shoobie. It works great.
12-23-06: Alex had been busy. The chassis is coming together. Nothing is welded completely yet, but it is all pretty well tacked together. I don't know whether the mounting of motor and rear axle will be next or building the front axle and radius rods will come first. Probably the motor.
Whatever, the project is moving forward nicely and on the mechanical front, I have just about everything we need to put the motor together. I still need a blower manifold and a blower drive. I have plenty of 1/2 inch pitch pulleys etc.
12-30-06: The engine is aligned and ready for mounts. Alex and Kol Johnson size up the new roll bar.
01-15-07: Ron and Tommy meet at Alex's shop for the first time to check progress on the chassis.
01-24-07: Progress continues. The plan is to be done with the chassis Friday (02-02) and then take it to Hagemann's shop on Monday (02-04) for the body.
02-08-07 Progress is being made. Bob Meyer is making the front axle. He has the right die's for the tubing bender and has fixtures for this stuff. Since we are up against it time wise, I figured that Alex could keep working on the stuff in the pictures and by having Meyer do the axle I'd probably gain a day. That's important because it needs to go to Hagemann next Monday for the body. Alex does excellent work and his welding is just beautiful. He certainly does as nice a job on all this stuff as any of the more noted restorers. The front wheels are at Alex's. I found a pair of original Creitz Engineering front hubs for full size Ford spindles. I gave them to Jon Hanson, a pal from Junior Fuel racing, and he had them polished and put them together with polished stainless spokes and aluminum rims and a pair of really nice Avon Speedmasters, just like what Ivo ran back then.
I have the blower, blower drive, idler/bracket and manifold in the car to take along, so Haggeman can set them on block and heads and have proper reference locations. The real short block and heads are pretty much done. The motor was a dry sump Bonneville motor up until just recently. We have to change over to wet-sump. We have (from John Loukas) an "artifact' oil pan off a motor, possibly a Chizler motor, that pitched a rod. It has character! My buddy Sweddy sent a new oil pump and with that all I am waiting for is the Enderle Bugcatcher and Walt Austin says it should be shipped this week. The flywheel is made and the ring gear teeth are being hobbed on it. Once that comes back to Meziere, it then goes to Crower for the addition of a double disc 10 inch pedal clutch. A SOFT PEDAL clutch, but with plenty of grip when engaged. I still have to get together with Gary Sumek at Lenco to get the driveline pieces and work out the "uncoupler" device modifications, but the driveline is not necessary to fire the car up with the starter, we don't need that until we want to push start and I am not quite sure when the first of those will be, at this point.
Jim Diest is supposed to have the chute pack available, I have to try to connect with him. OR Ivo, if you could get it from him and bring it tomorrow night that would be grand!!! He found a Red, White and Blue 16 foot ring slot, just like the car had and he is fixing it for me.
Fuel tank is placed.
Period correct torsion bar. The push bar protrudes to a point that it will clear the tail piece.
The Barnstormer is "Four on the floor" for the first time. We are now in the mode of a "Shop to Shop" journey, leaving Alex Mikkelsen's American Roadster shop and to paraphrase a Neil Diamond song, "Headed For The Future!". The future in this particular case is Jack Hagemann's mountain top installation, where the skin will be hung on the bones.
"Light it up" I said. In order to do this, it will have to be static started. Here's how that's going to work. This is a shot of the Meziere Enterprises Chrysler mini-starter that will make Barney light up. Mike and Dave Meziere have been helping me get my ducks in a row.
This is the flywheel that the Meziere clan built for the project. What is unique about this flywheel is that it is one piece of billet CM, and the starter teeth are part of the flywheel, not an added on ring. It is a special order item that they had never built before. It was built to blueprints provided by Pete Harris at Crower, because Crower will finish drill it and put a twin disc pedal clutch on it.
Ken Jack makes the aluminum piece as an adaptor from a 392 to a Powerglide and the small hole on the right lower with the two bolts next to it, is the starter location.
We have a plywood motorplate with the outline of the scatter shield drawn on it. When Hagemann has trimmed this to the cowl and belly pan shape, he will make a template or pattern from it and send it to Ken. Ken will then make a billet aluminum motorplate to the same shape and registering off the down holes he will make the starter location right in the motor plate. He will make a starter location on each side and a plug to fill the hole we don't use. That way we have our choice of a left and a right starter location.
Behind Alex's shop the Barnstormer is on the trailer that John Loukas used to tow his Coupe all over the country in days of yore. It is now, "Barney's". It is behind the trusty Lexus. SUV indeed, it has towed more famous front motor cars than you can shake a stick at. The back is full of stuff that Hagemann needs for reference. Heads, manifold, blower, mag etc.
Trip over, safe and sound in the capable hands of the second generation of Hagemann's to make race cars look good. Jack seems very confidant that he will be able to recreate the "aura" of the Barnstormer and after looking at a couple of his personal toys, I share his confidence.
Ron Johnson shows "Jet Car" Bob Smith how the onboard starter will work with the specially designed motorplate and flywheel.
03-16-07: A week after the March Meet at Bakersfield, I flew to San Jose and met Ken Jack there. He had brought my new trailer out from Neil's and Parks in Kansas and was on his way back home to Kansas City. Ken's company, Hemi's Unlimited, makes the adaptor units that I have mentioned before, to mount the Chrysler starter to the motor. He's going to make a motor plate that will have the starter mount. We drove out to Jack Hagemann's shop in Morgan Hills to check progress and let Ken size up the starter location situation so he understands what is going on when he gets the template or pattern for the motor plate.
Here, Ken is on the right with Jack and we have the first peek at the tail section, pretty much shaped and fitted.
Jack has captured the essence of the Barnstormer very well. The reveal behind the wheel is for the "wrap-around" bumper.
It is a very complex body, with a lot of detail that's hard to see in the pictures of the car. The Red color made it very difficult to make out nuances and little things like the fin on top and the ridge on the seam below the chute pack.
The tail section also had a couple of "darts" in the sides and a peak top center. Here's a picture of the original as it was in a car show in early 1962, with an approximately similar view of the new tail.
The "roll' of the body over the roll cage that I mentioned earlier is one of the more unusual features of this car, along with the "wraparound' push bar.
Jack Hagemann has the whole collection of Barnstormer pictures so he has been able to print out a number of them for reference. Here, a similar angle shot shows the "roll' of the tail section over the side on the original and the new car.
Steve Gibbs came down to San Diego and we visited Gary Sumek at Lenco. I brought along the empty 1960's Donovan welded aluminum clutch can that I got for Barney.
Gary has been working on a disengagement device for Cackle Cars, using mostly off the shelf parts. Here is what he had put together for us. The output shaft is approximately the correct length and has the candlestick and bearing retainer on the left. On the far right is the pinion half of a Lenco coupler. Inserted into it is the male half that Gary developed after our earlier conversation. It has a groove machined into is to accept the shift fork ears. The shift fork is laying behind and you can see it has a shaft that will accept a lever. The only special part here is the male couple half, everything else is off the shelf.
Here I put the shift fork in the approximate position it will be in the finished unit. The black anodized collar on the left is the bearing retainer and this will be revised to be both bigger in diameter and thicker, but still with the same 4 bolt standard pattern. The larger, thicker od will allow a piece of aluminum tubing approximately 6 inches inside diameter to be attached with 6 or 8 bolts threaded into the collar. The tubing will be the new driveshaft cover and will have bosses on the bottom to accept the shift fork.
Here, the lever is tipped forward and the male coupler half is disengaged. There will be a detent in the driveshaft tube/fork shaft receiver to positively locate the lever, forward (disengaged) or back (engaged).
An overall view disengaged.
Here the shaft has been slid most of the way into the clutch can. The shift fork pivot point well be farther away from the clutch can, obviously. I only put it there so basic relationships could be observed.
Gary will put everything I need into the clutch can and create the disengagement device and install it. When I get it back, we will be able to slip it in place, hook up clutch and shifter linkages and we're done.
Gary figures that he can make and sell these for Cackle Cars for under $600 if he doesn't have to do them one at a time. He needs the output shaft complete with bearing retainer and he will return it with the tube, shift fork, lever and coupler half.
Anyone who is able to slide their coupler forward and disengage right now, has enough movement capability for this setup. I think the male half can probably be shortened a little for really tight situations, but that's just me talking, Gary didn't say that.
Mine is the prototype and Gary will be making at least one for the Museum, for the Rattler. If anyone wants to piggyback on this situation, contact me and I'll send your e-mail to Gary or go to him direct. He will be working on the Museum job within a few weeks, so if this is something you would like, don't hesitate.
04-03-07: I stopped down to Crowers yesterday to say hello to Pete Harris and pick up the flywheel/clutch assembly for the Barnstormer. Due to a miscommunication, they had built me a three disc. When I explained that I needed a two disc, they said, "Hang out for a few minutes, we'll switch it for you!" Here clutch department manager Roger LeVine and Junior pop the clutch bolts out of the flywheel.
You will see that the Meziere built billet chrome moly flywheel has been recessed and friction material added to the face.
Junior is holding the pressure plate. You can see the friction material that is added to the pressure plate unit. I apologize for the poor quality of this picture, they were working quickly to get the unit rebuilt.
Junior is cleaning out the countersunk holes for the clutch bolts. The rest of the holes are for the fasteners for the friction surface on the clutch face of the flywheel.
The shorter two disc clutch bolts are all installed and the flywheel is ready to be mated to the clutch pack and pressure plate. When I got back from paying for it, it was completed and being boxed. I'll take a couple of pictures of the unit tonight.
The unit has some history as it was assembled using pieces and bits that were on a dusty shelf. The pressure plate had been one used by Robbie Moore and had new friction material installed. The arms were units that Brad Anderson had used on something. That made it more in keeping with the historic aspect of a Cackle Car and also was quite a bit less expensive than an all new unit. However, everything about it, from a functional aspect, is as good as new and with the Meziere flywheel, Pete Harris said it was a bullet-proof unit. I think so too. Thanks again to all the Mezieres, and to Pete, Roger, Junior and Crower.
04-09-07: Jack Hagemann sent me a couple of pictures late last week. I have included one of the original car at the nearest match for the angle Jack used in this picture. It's looking pretty good to me. Jack accompanied it with the title "Just metal". Yeah, sure.
I am hoping that he will be able to do the front belly and nose within the next two weeks. I need to get it back down here to get pedals and etc's mounted.
Deist is dyeing a White 16 foot ringslot parachute, to have the Red and Blue panels like Tommy had. I am trading him the Yellow one I bought from Ewald for the White one. Deist asked why I wanted to have the chute look like the original since the car won't ever make a pass.
I said "Oh, I don't know. Just authenticity I guess. Oh, by the way, how fast do you have to be going to have one of these chutes blossom?"
The 10 x 16 American's are back from the polisher. They look great. I found some original 10 x 16 M & H slicks, they will be shipped soon, I hope.
Now starts the "Columbus Countdown". Eight weeks until it has to be loaded, ready to go.
Hagemann suggested that seeing as how the body will be pretty nice, it would be equally nice if people could see the car once before it's painted. I thought it over and it would be very interesting to take it to Columbus in "Bare Metal" and then have it painted for Indy.
Ivo actually ran the car numerous times prior to paint, as the body work progressed from the wrap around tail to completion, and it was at one race, for sure, with the body completed but no paint yet. I have a couple of pictures of it that day. So, that takes a little pressure off, if I don't have to arrange the paint and lettering before Columbus. It was looking kind of iffy.
But, I do expect to have polishing, plating, chassis paint, upholstery etc. finished. We'll see how good I am at begging for help as the time shortens. Alms, for the poor!!!
The angle is slightly different, but you get the general idea. The chute pack will be 12 x 16 to fit the opening which is 14 x 18. This will allow for some "pack bulge". Good grief, a 16 foot ringslot. That thing fills a laundry basket. Hard to imagine it will even fit in a 12 x 16 chute pack. For those of you who have never seen a 16 foot ringslot, I have included a third picture of the original with the chute deployed while standing still. Either Penn and Teller helped out or there was a stiff breeze from the ocean.
4/10/07: First view of the completed rear bodywork with the temporary wheels and tires on. Jack is making the brake handle and will mount it and the master cylinder, which Brendan Murry is providing. Ken Jack will have the motorplate done Friday the 13th and will overnight it back to Jack. He will fit it to the car and finish mounting dzuz tabs for the cowl on the motorplate. The plan is for it to be completed by Jack by the end of next week and I will go get it then and bring it home.
It will go to Meyer to have the rear end finish welded and assembled. It also needs clutch pedal, throttle set-up, fuel shutoff and some miscellaneous tabs and brackets.
Gary Sumek said the clutch can with driveline will be complete next Monday so we will be able to fit that into the car.
Bill Crosby of Dallas, the owner of Scorpion 5, is shipping me a pair of 10 x 16 M & H's, they'll be here next week. As soon as I get my inner tubes back from Alex I can have the tires mounted on the freshly polished American Torq-thrusts and then the real stuff can be put on the car. Things are heating up.
The under part of the nose is complete and the top is fitted to the motor, has the crease down the middle and is cut to fit the torsion bar and axle. It still needs the flares over the axle and the rounded front has yet to be built. Now, it's just to go home and wait for a month or so while Jack finishes the body. The next time I see it will be when we come to get it.
04-26-07: The car is ready to be picked up. My Grandson Jeff and I drove to Gilroy which is next to Morgan Hills where Hagemann lives and stayed over night. We ate at the Black Bear Cafe, which was right across the street from the Motel we stayed in. Jack said to be at his shop at 9:00 so we were. Here's how the car looked when we got there.
We spent some time looking over the completed body and then loaded up and headed for San Diego.
04-27-07: The car is in Bob Meyers shop. It now has the correct wheels and tires and is up off the ground an inch more. Bob is going to finish weld the rear end housing and install the rear end and fit the scatter shield and Lenco disengager. Since Bob and Gary at Lenco work so closely together, it makes sense to have Meyer finish the driveline because if anything further has to be done, Lenco is nearby and a Lenco truck goes by Bob's shop a couple of times a day. A few more finishing touches, pedals etc. and some front end work and we're ready for Chrome and Upholstery.
Here is a shot of the finished motorplate. The hole in the lower right is for the stock mount Chrysler Mezeire starter. There are a paid of counterbored holes flanking the larger holes, these are for the bolts that attach the starter. Next thing is to get this back off the car, and take it to McKray along with the flywheel/clutch assembly and starter so he can hang the motorplate on the back of the motor, install the flywheel and starter and see what kind of gear lash we have. We can continue to work on the car by replacing the aluminum motorplate with the wood one the car was built with.
05-03-07: Here's the left spindle, pretty much finished. I bought a pair of 32-36 spindles on E-bay. They were in rough shape but seemed usable. Bob McKray trimmed them and then I took them to the polisher and asked him to polish them. Language issues resulted in them being chromed when I picked them up. They had to be heated and bent yet. They'll just have to be stripped and rechromed. I took them to Bob Meyer and he set out to put everything together.
We got a later street rod kingpin/bushing kit, but those kingpins are too long. Meyer will have to shorten them and put a new groove in for the retainer set-screw. Here Bob (Meyer) is sizing up the job he has in front of him.
As of yesterday the spindles were finally on and tie rod arms bent to match the originals so a tie rod could be made. Then the pitman arm can be correctly bent. Then a drag link can be made. Then the whole works can go back to the polisher to be plated. By the end of next week it should be rolling, capable of being moved under power, if and when we get power!
Here's a shot of the Barnstormer at Meyer's shop with the correct rear wheels and tires.
Meyer has attached his fixture to the spindles to secure them in a perfectly straight ahead position. Now he can dial in the new tie rod, and drag link.
The drag link is connected to the pitman arm, which had to be bent to clear the header position.
The remaining aspects of the front end/steering assembly are close to done.
This is the complete but not finish welded driveline cover with the bosses for the shift fork shaft tacked in place.
The driveline cover/disengager is resting in it's final location on the clutch can. Gary says it will be finished early next week.
05-09-07: Fitting the correct spindles to the axle and making all the steering linkage work in coordination has been a real task, but Meyer got it done. We have decent steering range and clearance between the tie rod and the underside of the nose. Now it all comes off and goes to the polisher/chrome shop.
We put some foam padding in to simulate what we will have with the upholstery with the car fitted for Tommy. Tim Everts is taller than Tom but fits pretty good. The steering wheel is at decent reach and legs fit nicely over the rear end. Tim's head is a little higher than Tom's was in the original, but about the same position otherwise.
Ex fuel dragster pilot Ronnie Goodsell dropped by so I asked him to assume the position. He is, probably, a little more petite than Ivo, but he felt fine in there also, good arm and leg fit. His head is closer to where Tommy's will be. Looks good to me.
So here you have it, in the sun for the first time with the front end correct and the correct rear wheels and tires. Goodsell is in the seat, Meyer and Kol standing behind. The car is not bowed up in the front, that's' the trough down the middle of the alley.
The to do list still includes a dozen items on the chassis. Got a month to go. Next week, the motor goes in and the week after it goes to Dennis Taylor for upholstery. We are sneaking up on the headers. That's going to be a project of it's own.
It won't get painted for another couple of months. It's going to be a few places first in bare metal to show off the quality of the body work.
5-11-07: We removed all the front end parts that need to be plated and I took them to Azteca polishing in my home town, Escondido. Juan Vergara and his wife (she's up front, where it's clean) run the business and they are busy with hot rod and restoration stainless steel and chrome stuff full time. Here Juan was looking over the torsion arms. Juan had already done the mag wheels and the spindles.
I was curious if all the components would fit together, for the flywheel, motorplate and starter. McKray has my motor yet, so I called Rick McDonald at Pro-Air and asked if he could help me out. Rick is redoing a bunch of stuff on Clyde Deidricks "Chubasco" and also building the engine for the Smirnoff car. Rick set a crank in Smirnoffs block and we installed the adaptor plate (we used it as a pattern for the motorplate and the starter mounts in exactly the same place on both) and the flywheel. We installed the starter and checked it. The lash looked good but it wouldn't engage. I removed it and hustled over to Mezeires (about 2 miles) and Dave Mezeire looked at it and started to laugh. It was the first Chrysler starter they made and it was the display unit at SEMA. Instead of a 10 tooth pinion it had a 9 tooth, which was all they had when it was originally assembled. Dave put a 10 tooth pinion on if and I hustled back over to Ricks. We hung everything back on the block and it seems to work perfectly.
05-14-07: Well, it's done. Gary did a great job and it's a good looking unit. When I got the clutch can from Ken Theis it was empty as a Coors can in our pits on Sunday morning! Gary (Lenco) put in everything needed to make it work and created the disengager device and attached it as well.
Nothing new here except everything is new. What a nice piece of work. Meyer still has to make a little gnouch in the inside of the flange and trim the can back a little for the starter Bendix! It will be at about 7:30 position looking at it from this side.
Move the lever forward and the coupler half moves forward and disengages. Considering all that had to be done to make all this work, maybe it IS "Rocket Science!".
3/4 rear view with the lever back and the coupler half extended as it would be when engaged.
05-18-07: The "disengager" is in the car and it works. Here the lever and coupler half are forward, obviously disengaged..
Here we have "lift-off". The lever is back, the coupler half is engaged and at least for right now, the process is slippery smooth. After the car settles with the completed engine mounted etc., the chassis may flex a little, and alignment may change. But since we don't intend to engage it when moving, we can jiggle things as necessary to get it engaged. It will come out of gear with no problems.
05-21-07: We have chrome too. It looks like it has a yellow cast, but it doesn't, that's the flash. We still have some issues with the spindles, they have been a real problem. The chrome is okay but the wheel bearings don't fit right. We'll get back at them after upholstery.
Clutch linkage-check, Steering-check-, Disengager linkage-check, throttle pedal and moon hydraulic setup-check, brake handle and master cylinder-check. Okay time to move out of the cockpit and get on with the rest. It's going to the upholsterer today. Dennis Taylor will do the upholstery and he recalled doing Tommy's Funny Car and the Jet Car when he was just getting started, so he's pleased to be a part of this project.
05-22-07: I delivered Barney to the ever so capable hands of Dennis Taylor for upholstery yesterday late. Dennis started his upholstery career about the time that Tony Nancy kind of moved away from race cars. He actually did a couple of jobs for Ivo on the funny car and the jet car, way back then, so this is full circle for him.
Dennis will do the job and it will be grand. I am planning to pick it up Friday morning. I talked to Dusty McWilliams today about taking Barney back to Columbus and it would be optimal to have it at the NHRA Museum by the 9th of June. That's two weeks from this coming Saturday. Can you feel the tension in the air?
On the way back from Taylor's we stopped at McKray's to drop off the blower manifold and the cradle to haul the motor in. Here it is. Barney's Heart! It is a stout 377 cubic inch former Bonneville hemi accustomed to a blower and Nitro. Notice the ported heads, gear drive and Donovan rocker arms and stands. The blower is a fresh Swedberg special competition model, the Scheifer mag is just back from Cirello and the Bugcatcher is brand new. This baby is ready to rock and roll.
So, mix a little, stir a little and we now have a blower manifold and rocker covers. It's getting closer. When we were at Tailor's, Keith Hickman stopped by (his shop is two blocks away) to check out the header situation. Keith is an ace header fabricator and was referred by Art Chrisman, via McKray. So the header man is on the job and McKray is in the final stages of assembly.
5-24-07: Well, we are getting closer. Here's the motor at Meyers shop. Dennis Taylor will be done with the upholstery some time in the morning and I'll be there to get the car 15 minutes later. Tommy was at Taylors shop yesterday and tried the car on for size, for the first time. He pronounced it good.
I modified the spare race car motor plate we used on the cradle for the Junior Fueler Chev motor so it had a Chrysler 392 bolt and dowel pin pattern. This is the same cradle we used for the race car motor. Works great with a hemi except this motor is probably 150 pounds heavier than the Chev motor. The block has been sleeved in all 8 cylinders and it's full of dry block. Groaannn!. The top pulley in the picture is bigger than what we'll run. 40 on the bottom, 35 up top is what we'll start with. Looks like a 58 1/2 inch belt will fit just right. We have 9 days to lift off.
Keith Hickson started on the headers when the car was at Taylors shop. I picked them up today. Someone suggested that I have the tubes polished before they were cut and fitted, that it would make chroming easier after the pipes and flanges were assembled, so I did. Keith is holding his handiwork. The headers are as nice as the upholstery, which is as nice as the body, which is as nice as, well you get the picture. The headers go to the polisher/chromer in the morning and I'll get them back, completed, on Friday.
05-25-07: Dennis Taylor did a superb job in a short time and got the upholstery done for pickup Friday morning. Tommy stopped down to Dennis shop Wednesday afternoon and visited with him and shared some details about the shape and size of the various pleated panels. Dennis said it was the most complex race car upholstery he had ever done. To say it looks great is an understatement. It is a fitting addition.
05-30-07: Today we were able to lay on a coat of paint on the chassis. Bill McGinn, a Michigan transplant, is giving me a hand finishing the car. Here he is applying some color.
Lousy picture. Sorry, I had the flash shut off and I must have wiggled the camera. Before I left we had the rear end back in and filled with grease, and the front end was ready to hang.
Over the last couple of days Kol and I made a lot of headway on the project. The starter is now mounted and it was tested today. It spins the motor and disengages as it's supposed to. The clutch was all together before we left too. Tomorrow the motor goes in the car and we be stylin'. Maybe we get to fire it Friday afternoon. Barona on Saturday if no problems.
05-31-07: The major assembly is completed, but we ran into a couple of snags. First, the good part. The couple half slides into engagement properly and the starter fits well within the frame rails. Brakes are bled and front wheels and spindles have been massaged so they fit right. We need four hoses made today, but there's a hose shop about a half mile away. We have a little electrical revisions yet to do but not much and it's basically planned out.
As to the snags, basically you could say we got (or didn't) get the shaft!!!
Snag 1. We were supposed to get a fuel pump extension shaft via UPS but it got sent to the wrong place. A call to Lenco and Gary Sumek resulted in a shaft being made and delivered within two hours.
The Mag shaft won't drop into the oil pump intermediate shaft. We removed that and tried on the bench and no-go. So I called Rick McDonald and he said had a solution. I headed up his way.
Rick looked over what I brought and went to a shelf and brought out a new brass gear and a new intermediate 4140 shaft and we fitted everything and it all works so he will assemble the shaft and gear and I can pick it up this morning. That should solve that problem.
Kol is checking the electrical hookup for the onboard starter. We will eventually mount batteries on the car but right now we are running out of time so we'll use a plug in external battery.
So, we have the motor mounted and all is well, except it won't turn over. It used to turn over. It turned over yesterday before we put it in the car, What!
Turns out that the Allen set screws for the static clutch pressure on the two-disc Crower clutch were hitting the throw out shaft on the 7 1/2 inch Donovan aluminum can. We pulled the motor and pulled the can off, and switched from 1 inch set screws to 5/8 set screws (which didn't extend past the jam nut) and put it back together. Nirvana. It turns over, no contact. No clearance (to speak of) but no contact. Kol and Marc are busy putting everything back together again.
I called Nostalgia Top Fuel driver Rick White yesterday and asked if he'd like to sit in the Barnstormer Saturday at Barona and he was quick to agree and asked if we needed help. That was like asking John Edwards if he needs campaign advice. Anyway, Rick swung into action and helped out in a half dozen ways. We were able to load the car on the trailer at about 3:00 P. M. Off to Barona.
It's running! It's running on 80 percent and it sounds great. Marc is in the seat and Rick is handling the fire-up management chores. I would have done it, but why should I when there's someone like Rick willing to see to it that everything is right. Been 40 years plus for me. Chizler was not my deal. Loukas and Alex set the tune-up and I just started it from time to time. Here it WAS my deal, and I was happy to have Rick handle stuff. We were going to do a push start with him in the seat, but we had a glitch appear and packed it in. Minor glitch will be fixed early in the week.
Notice the red tool box and the El Camino and open trailer. That's it. If it's not in (or on) one of those, we don't have it!!!. That's the deal, just like we did it back then. The headers are a little wrong, by the way, and the guy who made them is going to overwhelm them and get them right. Daughter Connie stands behind Rick. She's a great help and seems to enjoy this old stuff!
The on board starter and the single 12 volt battery pack you can see in the lower left, are absolutely superb! Beats a blower starter so badly that I wouldn't even consider a blower starter again.
Rick MacDonald spent a day and a half trying to solve our oil pump-intermediate shaft-distributor shaft problems. Between he and I and Kol we did get it figured out and lit the Barnstormer up at about 7:30 in Rick's back yard. Unless we have badly misjudged something, we have solved the problems and after Rick got the barrel valve zeroed in, it was running great. We ran about 4 gallons of 80% out and although we didn't whack the throttle (neighbors you know) it seems like it's good.
Tomorrow we are taking it to Pomona and Ivo is going to actually leave home before 2:00 P. M. to sit in the car and do a push start, at 2:00 P. M. or thereabouts. Top end (as far as we can get from LaVerne) will be the location. Depending on how time goes, we may drag it over to the Museum for the start of Cruise Night!
Then Thursday back to Meyer for parachute and windshield mounting and then back to Rick Mac on Friday for final hose fitting. Saturday we take it to NHRA Museum for loading onto their trailer for transport to Columbus. I am glad we didn't wait until the last minute to get this one done. Groannn!
It's a little early to get philosophical about this project, but let me say now, that I must have the greatest collection of friends that anyone building a car like this, could possibly have.
06-06-07: Pomona. The big day had come. The Barnstormer got the acid test before its long trip to Columbus, Ohio for the National Hot Rod Reunion. On hand was Steve Gibbs, Ron Johnson, Tom Ivo, Alex Mikkelsen and some "helpers".
TV Tom: "Well if I'm the only one that's going to lend a hand (one) ---- just give me my helmet! Besides I've been watching the modern day races on TV too much --- and drivers don't work on cars anymore! So "JUST GIVE ME THE KEYS AND TELL ME WHAT TIME THE CACKLEFEST STARTS!"
I got some pictures myself (Ivo) at today's launching of The Barnstormer at Pomona. So I thought I'd pass some of them on to you. I also captioned them with a little different prospective!!! The I V O one with a little <grin> involved in them, as I always look at things. It comes from acting in too many situation comedies on TV in my younger life I think. I see "funny" in everything!!! <grin> Sooooooooo, the first one is me looking at the "bug" in the cockpit with me ---- someone get the exterminator!!!
Ron Johnson and Alex Mikkelsen "spiking" the fuel tank, while the "ham" Ivo is profiling for the camera's!
Johnson informs Ivo he put 80% in the tank. Yee Gods ---- back when, on the last run at the Indy nationals in the finals, I'd (maybe) run 50%! I think I'd better sit a little lower in the seat!
TeeVee Tommy Ivo dressed in period perfect attire prior to jumping (well, okay, crawling) into Barnstormer at Pomona, 2:45 P. M.
"Here's another shot I have from the first start up of the Barnstormer at Pomona Tuesday. Same deal ---- putting on the gloves in the cockpit picture, only 45 years later. This gives me a very warm feeling to see these together and yet so far apart in time, as you might imagine. And it all happened with a great deal of effort, because of my good friend Ron Johnson, who I've been friends with for even longer than that. THANKS RON!!! Plus a "hats off" to all the other folks that made this come about. A humbly appreciative." TV Tom
All set to go. The helmet Tommy has on was painted and lettered "Poison Ivo" in 1960 by Jon Kosmoski and Frank Nicholas, when Tommy came to Minneapolis with the Twin-Buick AA/GD. I was there too!
Who says you can't go back again. Here's TeeVee hisself headed for the staring line after being push started at Pomona, 42 years after the last time Tommy had this car at the Winternationals. It sounded at least as good as the original did. We be on 80% and the original ran a much lower percentage to keep it alive. Whapp! Whapp!
Me and TeeVee! It looks like I was starting to tilt. I felt like it, the relief was mammoth. After the last week, it seemed so many times like this wasn't going to happen, that having it over was huge!
TeeVee, on the other hand, strolled in with his pals about an hour before we lit it up, with his helmet in hand, fresh as a daisy and like any hired driver asking why it was taking so long to get ready! Truth be known, I think we were both relieved.
Tomorrow it gets parachute and windscreen and metal finish on the whole body. Friday we get some better looking fuel lines and a better mount location for the oil filter. Then, Saturday to the NHRA Museum for loading into the trailer.
06-14-07: On the left, Bob Meyer, on the right, Tim Everts, finishing up the windshield installation. Like everything else, this turned out to be a little more work than expected. The patterns from Hagemann were good, but the fit between sections had to be massaged and the clips that hold the sections together were tricky to make. But, it's done!
The 16 foot ringslot chute has been mounted and is at least as good as anyone had in 1962. We just got it from Deist a couple of days ago and he pronounced it worthy. We have a little metal finishing to do on the lower part of the tail section. The rest of the body is done, except for a little of the belly pan. We'll finish this stuff tomorrow or at Columbus on Friday. I have to take the car back to Rick MacDonald tomorrow for a few things.