Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Our 1928 Chev Is Now Fully Registered - We Done It!


Today I walked out of the "Vicroads" vehicle registration office in Warragul with the correct papers in one hand and my "WF 1928" black and white Victorian number plates in the other to make old Monty a fully road registered vehicle once again after many years of sitting idle, plus I might add that there was a large grin of achievement stamped across my face....

I always said the first place I would drive the Chev to when I got it fully registered was up to the Trafalgar Cemetery with a couple of cold beers, sit, admire the view down the valley and have a quiet one, well that did happen today.

Many thanks must go to each and every one of you that have looked in on this blog from time to time over the last couple of years, it really just started as an idea one night to keep dads memory going, to keep his face up on the computer as it was only a few months after his passing.

I had very simple intentions for this car when I first got it running back in November 2010 as I was completely happy with just getting it started and driving it out of dads workshop and out into the sunlight for a better look, maybe give it a little clean up and then put it over in our signshop and start to workout a few things about it, then drive it occasionally around the block on Sunday mornings, the fact that it was moving again was enough for me and the thought of this dismantling this car into bits and rebuilding everything again was just too big a project get my head around, it sort of hurt just thinking about it at the time being just a novice mechanic who played around with motorcycles.

At the time a source of help and information was dads brother "Digger Fowler" who could confirm a few things about its originality and also that the mileage on the speedo which was showing 10,400 miles was correct, uncle also knew the location of the Hill End farm where dad had brought it from, a trip a few months later we would both take together and locate the property and talk to the neighbour of the original owner, so thanks uncle for your help once again.

After a month or so I started to develop itchy feet as the fascination with the Chev began to take hold and I soon found myself trawling the internet for 1928 vintage car forums and information, I soon built up a friendship on an American Chevrolet site with a bloke 100kms down the road in Melbourne called Ray Dean who had a fully restored 1928 Chevrolet.
Ray at the time was very helpful with discussing any problem that I had with the car and also Ray was a little curious I was later to learn as he was very keen to come out from the city and have a look at this original "barnfind" Chevy with the low mileage that I spoke of, which he did one Sunday morning when I noticed an immaculately restored burgundy and black 28' Chev quietly appeared  in our driveway and after the first meeting a very good friendship based on car talking bullshit and Aussie banter soon developed.

Ray I cannot thank you enough mate for your unbelievable knowledge of these old vehicles and for all of your help both with your spare time on weekends with the many hours spent in the resto shed and with your time tracking down and locating parts on the internet., for your support over the phone when things went a little "up shit creek" from time to time and for your encouragement in just keeping the restoration moving forward and getting it finished.

From myself, Lisa, our kids and the Fowler family Ray, thank you very much mate, such a great effort and send me that invoice one day when you remember that you keep talking about.. Cheers Mate

Well that's about it from me, I am hanging up my blog for awhile, I have personally achieved a goal that I dreamt about as a young kid and now I need to step back for a bit and have some Sundays with Lisa and kids who have been great while this all has been going on around them and I love them for helping it happen.
I will post a photo from time to time about any trips that unfold in Monty that we make, but I have done what I wanted to achieve but only in a much shorter time, to be honest when I started I thought maybe it would take 4 or 5 years but not 16 bloody months. I now have a lovely "patina" style vintage car to drive, maintain and get enjoyment from for the rest of my life and I know dad would be very proud and happy with the end result and as true to his word, I stuck to his wishes.

"We'll get it running, but we're not painting it all fancy".

In Memory Of Our Father Wayne Fowler 1939 - 2010

"A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others."

Thank you - Grant Fowler 

Below is a repeat of the first page that I wrote on this blog back in November 2010, explaining why this restoration was happening.

It's something that just happens in life, it probably already has happened to you, if not, then it will and you cannot escape it as one day everything changes so quickly...

Our family experienced a roller-coaster ride on the "Leukaemia Express" from May 2010 until the 14th July 2010 when my father Wayne Fowler, a very active, fit and only at the age of 71 years was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of AML Leukaemia, dad faced it head on, he showed us how to accept what was dealt up to you in life, give it your best shot and see what happens.

Dad lasted just 6 weeks & life changed so quickly for us all.

Wayne Montague Fowler was very active, ate healthy, enjoyed people, loved a challenge and looked forward to his yearly month long camping & fishing trips up north in the "Gulf Country" of northern Australia with his brothers and best mate George, 30 trips in total they done over the years, yes dads sudden illness was a big shock to our family, friends and also the local township of Trafalgar where he lived for all his 71 yrs.

Dad worked with his older brother "Digger" in their own business "Fowler & Sons" shifting & relocating entire buildings & houses across Victoria and also hiring out a fleet of cranes for more than 50 years up until they both retired and sold up the business in 1997. It was during these earlier years that dad came across an old Chev sitting out under a lovely big shady tree in a farmers paddock near the small township of " Hill End" 30kms north of Trafalgar towards Mount Baw Baw but the Chev was minus the front axle, dad got talking to the owner about the Chev, "I've ripped out the front axle & wheels and put it over there under that old farm trailer to use for the hay", well they both came to an agreement, dad would replace the farm trailer axle with one that he had back in the workshop and put the original axle and wheels back under "Monty", dad returned to the farm a few days later with the help of his dad & his brother Digger to switch the axles over and bring the Chev back into Trafalgar on the back of the truck where it would find its new home in the old workshop of "Fowler & Sons" Kitchener Street Trafalgar.
One thing I can tell you is that mum was none too happy to see it being taken off the back of the truck and driven into the shed, it cost dad 60 pounds in total to claim his name to the Chev, mum was not too pleased.

Over the past forty years Dad and uncle Digger worked very long hours, away for weeks shifting and relocating buildings, what spare time dad did get was mostly on a Sunday and he would use this time to enjoy himself with mum & us kids in the garden and his large veggie patch, while always keeping a close eye on the workshop directly across the road from our house as work always came first, dad loved his job and lived for the business so the old Chev just sat there collecting dust in the workshop. Dad never wanted to sell it, he had a good few offers but always said "No sorry, I won't be selling it day"....

As a kid I was always playing in & roaming about the old workshop, shadowing my father while he worked, I'd get covered in grease and years of old thick dust which seemed to of blanketed everything, climbing up in the old timber loft was an adventure where I would then climb all over the unused truck tyres which were lined up a long rows to reach the large timber air vents that run along the full length of the workshop wall where I would  stare down out our house across the road and call out a bit of cheek to a passer-by walking along the footpath knowing that if things got a bit heated I had dad directly under me repairing a truck or welding up some sort of machinery, he would be there for backup, but things never got that far...

For years we played around the workshop and the Chev was always parked in the same spot, jacked up on timber blocks as the workshop had a hard packed dirt floor and sitting directly beside the big old bench saw and arc welder but "Monty" did have some sort of purpose at "Fowler & Sons" and that was to store all the large heavy canvas building tarps inside & on top of him to a point where you couldn't  see a car at all from 10 feet away and when you are a little kid trying for the life of you to move some of these tarps, balancing with one foot while standing on the large black running boards of the car just to have a peek inside it was impossible, god knows I tried it many times but the best I could always see was the old wooden steering wheel & a row of dusty unreadable dials on the dashboard which I would quickly give it a few turns, make some loud engine noises and jump back down again, often in time with dads voice who had just walked around the corner to grab some more welding rods only to catch me out, "Hey what are you doing muscles, get down from there!"
Dad did however bring "Monty" out into the sunlight on 3 occasions that I can remember over those 40 odd years and it was always with laughter and a bit of fun from the other blokes in the workshop who would quickly be lining up for a ride and a quick few laps around the workshop yard and then back in the workshop he would go and park it up against the old rusted corrugated iron wall making way for the dust to start gathering and laying down another 10 years worth of thickness on it until next time the same routine is played out for a bit of light entertainment...

So that brings us up to this present day, November 9th 2010, nearly 5 months since dad past away and I want to bring "Monty" out from the darken workshop and do what dad probably would of wanted to do all those years ago but just didn't have the spare time to do it and I think about this a lot while looking back over his life and the last thing that dad would wanted to do after having spent all week driving trucks, cranes and then fixing and repairing them late into the night over in the workshop so that they could be back out on the road for work the next morning at 6am to earn a dollar while already have working a 12 hr day out on the job up to his knees in mud or crawling under buildings, I am pretty sure that the last thing he would of felt like doing was restoring a bloody old car in his spare time, as it was not through his lack of ability or mechanical knowledge either, but he did not want to part with it just the same...

Lets just clear one thing up, the name "Monty" how and why?.I have only just started calling the car this over the last month to my wife & kids and the name as stuck, dad didn't call it anything, "Monty" was dads father name "Monty Fowler" and dad was "Montague Wayne Fowler" so I thought why the hell not, it's very fitting and beside he looks like an old "Monty".... 

Monty is a 1928 Chevrolet - National Tourer with only 10,400 original miles on the speedo, mechanical it is "all there", only a little rust in the rear body, but 90% of the woodwork and the interior is stuffed but I have time on my hands and a willingness to learn and also a little dream burning away in the back of my head to turn it into a roadworthy, drivable, cute little "Sunday" car that it is......We'll just wait and see.

Yesterday, Tuesday 9th November 2010, I organized a mate to come around to dads workshop and have a go at cranking it over, I tried the weekend before but I'm just a bit hesitant in case I burnt or shorted something out with not knowing what and how to start it but before this happened  Uncle Digger who by the way had owned one of these when he was a young fella to roar around the Gippsland hills in told me that the mileage was correct and that it is mechanically "all there" and would turnover easily, he was correct.

Trevor arrived with his toolbox, tested this and that with his electrical gauge and you know some blokes are just a natural with machinery and the way Trevor made his way around an engine block with his head buried right down in amongst layers of grease he reminded me of dad as he rigged up a gravity fed fuel line to bypass the "autovac" fuel system which uncle digger had warned me was trouble, we sorted out the dials and switches on the dash which was all very simple when you have someone that's knows what they are doing.

After about 30 minutes Trevor calls out "Kick it in the guts now Grant", so with me behind the old wooden steering wheel with my bum squashed down on the old metal spring bench seat and looking through the dusty front windscreen I braced myself as I pressed my left foot down on the starter button, it wound over, fired up and jumped to life straight away, we both roared laughing as Trevor looked up from under the bonnet,  old "Monty" sat there purring and was idling away so sweetly. We both could not believe how strong and responsive the little 4 cylinder engine was, there was no smoke blowing and as we had the back wheels jacked up off the ground they were turning slowly so Trevor got in and went through all 3 gears, "the gearbox feels nice and tight" he called out, it was just lovely to hear the Chev running again after all these years but this time it will not be parked back up on blocks in the darken workshop, "dad it is staying out of there" 

I will keep dads word, mechanically it will be kept running nicely and always on the battery charger so that I can push the starter button anytime and it will "fire up", the body kept as it is "original" and in a state of "patina", the interior well time will tell but reupholstered in an old looking leather finish which I'm not to sure how to achieve this but there are many cluey people around the Gippsland area with vintage vehicles of all types so the contacts are easy to find as over the years I have signwritten and pinstriped many old restored trucks and I am always bumping into these people.

This will be a long term hobby but please do drop by from time to time to have a read or call by the workshop for a chat anytime. 

Cheers Grant Fowler

Mum and Dad


  1. Grant, your perseverance has paid off, and what a magnificent machine it has turned out to be.

    You obviously enjoyed the trip, come rain or hail and we all tend to forget the moments of pain and frustration that come hand in hand with restoring old cars..

    Well done mate and I,m sure a certain other person is looking down at you, in the shed with a grin from ear to ear....


  2. Gidday Bluey,

    Lovely words once again mate, yes looking back over the resto time it went very fast, there was always something to do, think or worry about the entire time, and would I do it again, you bet with either a 1928 Chevy ute, truck or something that would resemble a speedster when completed..
    Cheers Bluey and I hope that one day we will cross paths in our travels and get to have a cold beer together.

    Take Care

    Grant Fowler

  3. Congratulations on achieving your goal Grant.
    A great reward for your outstanding efforts, in such a quick time.!

  4. Speedster, did someone say speedster?

    I'm in.