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New Class Lets Stanford Students Restore a Piece of Americana (Restoring Cadillac DeVille)
Stanford report ^ | June 14, 2012 | BROOKE DONALD

Posted on 06/17/2012 4:51:13 PM PDT by nickcarraway

A new course in mechanical engineering explores product design and manufacturing through the restoration of an old Cadillac DeVille.

The course description for a new seminar in mechanical engineering describes exploration into topics of design and manufacturing, and tells students they will consider questions of American identity and history.

Then it says this: Every student can expect to get his or her hands dirty.

"This quarter we decided to try something a little different, a little scary," says Greg Kress, a PhD candidate in mechanical engineering who is helping teach the class.

That's ME397: Design Restoration. And in it, students learn by restoring a 1962 Cadillac DeVille – the car, complete with space-age fins, that defined luxury in that bygone era.

The students have worked on installing new brakes, pulling out and repairing the engine, hooking up a new transmission and pretty much rewiring everything.

"People don't build cars like this anymore. People don't build products like this anymore," Kress says, pointing to the blue Cadillac propped up on blocks in the lot of the Volkswagen Automotive Innovation Lab. "But this whole car comes from an era. And you have to ask, what does it symbolize? What does it represent?"

A goal of the class was to explore those questions and understand design through the eyes of the manufacturer. Another was to have the car running by quarter's end.

"I had no reason to believe that wasn't a perfectly reasonable goal," Kress said. "Turns out it was. Now we're just desperately trying to get it mobile enough to move."

The car belonged to Kress' grandfather and took him on cross-country sales trips. It transported Kress' father to college.

More recently, however, it was sitting in a garage like a "big piece of junk."

Kress always wanted to restore it but didn't have the know-how or the means. He also didn't want to complete his studies in engineering without ever having tinkered with a car. He didn't think other students should either.

"Maybe that's just an old-fashioned way of thinking, but to graduate with multiple degrees in mechanical engineering and not actually know how a brake works doesn't seem to make sense," he said.

So the course was born. A 1-credit class, it's part of Stanford's Revs Program, which studies all things car from an all-discipline point of view, including art, history, engineering, design and social science.

The students in the class are computer scientists, fine arts majors, mechanical engineers and product designers.

"When it comes down to getting in there with a grinder," Kress says as he points to a student crouched in the space where the engine will be, "it doesn't matter what major you are. That's a nice thing with this class. There's a leveling effect. It's too complicated for any one of us."

Kress describes the class as having three parts: basic shop class, project management and design inquiry.

"What really attracted me to this class was exploring the car not only as a mechanical object but as a piece of design," said Alex Gamburg, a junior majoring in design.

His hands grimy from tinkering with the brakes, Gamburg said he hardly even drives cars, let alone repairs them.

"This has been a very demystifying experience in some ways and in other ways I'm even more amazed these things actually roll because of the difficulties we've had to go through," he said.

Some of the difficulties had to do with getting parts for something so old. And while Kress purchased an old repair manual, it still left questions about how to do certain tasks.

"There's a lot of sourcing to be done [on parts]," said Marcus Albonico, a first-year master's student in mechanical engineering. "It's a headache, but the more you do it, the better you get at it. So I've gotten much better through this course."

"One of the biggest things I've learned at Stanford is the power of building a good team," Kress said. "We have a few informal rules in this class. One is to not work alone. Another is if you don't know how to do something, find someone who does. And if you do know how to do something, find someone you can teach."

The course met weekly throughout spring quarter. There are no exams and no grades.

"The structure is fluid. The course is designed so that whatever you want to tackle, you can tackle it," Kress said.

As long as you're OK with getting your hands dirty.

TOPICS: Education; Hobbies; Miscellaneous
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To: nickcarraway
Kress always wanted to restore it but didn't have the know-how or the means. He also didn't want to complete his studies in engineering without ever having tinkered with a car. He didn't think other students should either.

A great point, actually. I don't know how the American high-school system compares to ours up here in Canada. But here, it's very likely that students going on to university—including engineering school—never had the opportunity to take vocational classes. I originally started in mechanical engineering and worked for a couple summers as a draftsman. There were times on the job that I thought a course in welding or machine shop would have come in very handy.

21 posted on 06/17/2012 6:06:32 PM PDT by RansomOttawa (tm)
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To: nickcarraway

Doesn’t look like the piece of junk that the instructor described. Some amateur bodywork down the right side, so-so respray in what looks not to be a facory color for that year, but reasonably complete, chrome and glass are good, only missing a fender skirt.

That body style was derived from the amazing 1960 Eldorado Brougham which was the last of the truly custom bodied Cadillacs, body built by Pininfarina in Italy and shipped to the US for final assembly, shared no sheetmetal whatsoever with the rest of the 60 line which still sported the massive fins and chrome, chrome, chrome. Pininfarina cleaned it up, much sharper lines, modest angular fins, squared off formal roofline in the rear.

That was picked up across the line in 61 with a downsiezed line, there was a recession on at the time. Most manufacturers began to go much cleaner and to shed the flamboyance of the late fifties, with the most dramatic departure being the famous “Kennedy” Lincolns against which cars such as this Cadillac competed.

22 posted on 06/17/2012 6:06:45 PM PDT by RegulatorCountry
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To: chrisser

If it isn’t murderously hot in the old warehouse this week, I plan to go try it again. Thank you for the ground advice. I will jump for joy if that is the case and feel like a dunce a few minutes later. I have forgotten so much since HS auto mech.

I’ve cleaned out a lot corrosion in wiring harness. The main connector was really covered. After half a can of WD40 over a few attempts, I got that cleaned up.

That restored a some power in engine compartment up to the coil which had been flat.

Here is something that probably isn’t related but it is engine electrical. The starter failed a few weeks back and I took it to one of the few rebuilders apparently left. He got it back to me. There was a screw that had worked loose and shorted on the housing. According to him the guts were like new.

Anyway, it works but after a few attempts to spin over which it does fine, it gets really hot. I don’t go more than 10-15 seconds on any spin with breaks. I have to watch my battery since I don’t have power at this building and don’t want to kill it.

If you want a laugh, here is a smugmug album of what I have done with it off and on.!i=1167186781&k=6xWUk

As I work on it, I send some of my video up as stock footage to see if I can ever get anything back during this long haul.

Mechanically it is all there, it is the body that has simply had it.

There are only so many of the Willys era left and I would like to have one.

23 posted on 06/17/2012 6:11:32 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
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To: tbw2
There is a fantastic short story, Lost Art by George O. Smith that might be the exact story that you wrote of.

It isn't mentioned in his bibliographics because it undoubtedly came from his publications in Astounding Science Fiction and it was reprinted in A Treasury of Great Science Fiction volume II

Consider using Google to find & obtain these publications :)

24 posted on 06/17/2012 6:26:55 PM PDT by bill1952 (Choice is an illusion created between those with power - and those without)
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To: hometoroost

You’re being facetious, right ?

25 posted on 06/17/2012 6:38:11 PM PDT by EDINVA
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To: wally_bert

Neat project. Not really my cup of tea, but I can sure appreciate the amount work.

Best of luck!

26 posted on 06/17/2012 6:45:05 PM PDT by chrisser (Starve the Monkeys!)
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To: chrisser

Thanks. Sooner or later I will get it somewhere. It isn’t eating anything and sits rent free in an in-law’s warehouse.

Here is an example of stock footage that I generate when feebly working on it. There are more. The smugmug stuff is scaled down 720p with a copyright key. Maybe one day it or one of it’s ilk will sell. There are only over 1000 clips in the gallery. It has been very slow not that it was a major money maker to begin with.

27 posted on 06/17/2012 6:52:01 PM PDT by wally_bert (It's sheer elegance in its simplicity! - The Middleman)
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To: nickcarraway

Dad had one. Great car.

28 posted on 06/17/2012 6:57:46 PM PDT by null and void (Day 1244 of our ObamaVacation from reality - Obama is not a Big Brother [he's a Big Sissy...])
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To: nickcarraway
NOT what you want to see head on in your lane while driving a Prius.
29 posted on 06/17/2012 7:00:40 PM PDT by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: wally_bert

Make sure your Willys still has a good ground strap to the frame

30 posted on 06/17/2012 7:05:16 PM PDT by mo (If you understand, no explanation is needed. If you don't understand, no explanation is possible.)
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Yes. $52,000 a year is kind of insane for a Mr. Goodwrench class.

31 posted on 06/17/2012 7:06:41 PM PDT by hometoroost (Frodo lives!)
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To: South Dakota

My mom had a white ‘61 Coupe DeVille.
Big (and fast.)

32 posted on 06/17/2012 7:45:18 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
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To: Eric in the Ozarks

My dad had a 60 and a 62 Cadillac. I got to drive the 1960. I’ve always loved driving big cars and it was the best of them all

33 posted on 06/17/2012 7:57:56 PM PDT by South Dakota (shut up and drill)
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To: CrazyIvan

NOT what you want to see head on in your lane while driving a Prius.
You should be even more scared if you’re driving the Caddy ,, this is a 62 ,,, an “X” frame GM ... infamous for ripping in half in accidents and throwing front and rear passengers out on the road... too damn cheap to run frame rails down the outsides.

For my money I like the 1970-76 full size GM’s styling the best ... with the mid size 2 doors (1973-1977) a close second .

34 posted on 06/17/2012 9:28:10 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: nickcarraway
The 1962 Caddy is an ugly car, now the 1960 (The 2nd car I every owned,) 1957 Caddy (something like 5680 lb's.) was my 1st Car. I lived in New York, (Brentwood, Long Island, N.Y.) and the State charged License Plate Fee's ($37.50 I think) based upon weight. That was a lot of money for a kid making minimum wage of like $2.50 per hr.

For those who don't know, the 57 had the "Electric Eye" for the Headlights, so as to change from High Beam, to Low Beam and the "Foot Operated Wonder Bar" {Located Under the Brake Pedal, not really a good location} to select radio stations on the Radio, if I remember correctly, so did my 1960 (21 Foot Long) have both of these options.

See here 1960 Caddy,12029/1960-Cadillac-DeVille_photo.aspx

35 posted on 06/17/2012 9:29:13 PM PDT by Stanwood_Dave ("Testilying." Cop's don't lie, they just Testily{ing} as taught in their respected Police Academy.)
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To: Neidermeyer

36 posted on 06/17/2012 9:31:24 PM PDT by Neidermeyer
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To: nickcarraway

We call(ed) it “Learn by Doing” a couple of hundred miles down the
coast from Stanford. It is the Cal Poly motto. Welcome to the world
of practical application.

37 posted on 06/17/2012 9:44:47 PM PDT by Sivad (NorCal Red Turf)
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To: hometoroost

This is a ONE CREDIT class. The typical Stanford student takes @15 credits per quarter, for 3 quarters a year. My memory is that the flat quarterly tuition allows up to 19 credits per quarter. Given the intensity of most of the classes and brevity of the quarters, that’s plenty. But ONE CREDIT is a blip in the course load:tuition calculation.

38 posted on 06/17/2012 9:56:02 PM PDT by EDINVA
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To: mylife
Mike Nesmith shows that the fins are really functional.
39 posted on 06/17/2012 11:11:19 PM PDT by Erasmus (Zwischen des Teufels und des tiefes, blaues Meers)
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To: wally_bert

Some thoughts:

1. You might want to look for something called a resistor block- on some older models the ignition system ran through one on the firewall, and if they went to the bad, they would let it turn over but not run.

2. Check the ignition switch. Sometimes the barrel part (the one with the key) wears and causes a problem.

3. This is elementary but as you said it might be something simple. Make sure your number 1 cylinder is TDC (turn it with a wrench) and then check your rotor button to make sure it is pointing the correct way. (I don’t know which way that would be in yours- check a manual).

Good luck with your project- it looks like you have some work ahead of you!

40 posted on 06/18/2012 5:31:36 AM PDT by GenXteacher (You have chosen dishonor to avoid war; you shall have war also.)
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