Sunday, September 23, 2012


Washington Island -

Bill Crance has the knowledge, and maybe just as important, the right temperament, to restore vehicles. This project is his second since retirement two years ago.

He purchased his Model-A in pieces that were partly restored but still were a long way from completed assembly, a project began by the late Henry Nelson.  Using his knowledge and intuition for things mechanical, and by listening and learning from others, and by doing as he went along, gradually, and with characteristic patience, Bill restored his car.  He took the motor to a county machinist who specialized in reworking motors.  He and his nephew "Elvis" repaired rusted fenders and floors, then painted the parts, and, finally, he reassembled the pieces.

Son Thor and I had a chance to visit Bill and his car in his shop last December 2011.  That was a stage when the car looked quite complete from the exterior, and when Bill was partway through installation of an interior liner.  The seats had yet to be installed.  There were a few things, here and there, he pointed out to us, all of which he finished over the next several months.  The car's paint job looked professional - and it was. Bill's son-in-law is an expert who operates a custom car refinishing business in the Chicago area.

By early June Bill, had his car out on island roads, trying it out the ride, and he stopped on one such jaunt at the Ferry Line office and offered me a ride.  He and neighbor Bob Nikolai, also an avid Model-A restorer and collector, planned a road trip later that month to a national Model-A meet in Marquette, Michigan.  This would be a fair trek in two old vehicles, but they left the island confident they'd thought of everything - or could fix and repair along the way as necessary.

The only glitch in their travels came on the return leg, when Bob's exhaust manifold loosened and fell off, on Green Bay's east side (near Highway 41 Tower Drive bridge).  Bill, following in his car, retrieved it from the roadside.  They wired it back into place for the home stretch through Door County.

Here are more photos of Bill's project, both in his shop and on the road.  - Dick Purinton

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