It’s almost time for the Fondy Vintage Auto Club’s “Auto Parts Swap Meet,” which is one of the first collector car events in central Wisconsin each year. It is set for March 16 at the Fond du Lac County Fairgrounds and you can call Gary Duitman (1-920-579-0077) or Greg Freund (1-920-579-8450) for information about that. This is where I first saw the work of Mike Freund.
Freund polishes stainless steel, restores steering wheels, brings old cars back to life, builds hot rods and – for the past several years – has been constructing some of the best “straight axle” or “gasser” cars around this neck of the woods. After seeing his talent at the swap meet a few years back, I called on him to bail me out on a writing project. Some years earlier, a restorer had penned a book about polishing stainless parts. The publisher wanted a second edition and the original author wasn’t interested in taking the project on.
The publisher had asked me to freshen up the book and I was thinking I could do so with the help of a company that specialized in stainless steel restoration. Therefore, I signed the contract, but the first company said they did not want to share trade secrets. No problem. That was their prerogative, but I had to find another expert source to help me get the book done. So, I called Mike Freund and he was all for it and with his help I got the book completed in time.
I also discovered that, while I had passed on a lot of good advice from Mike Freund in that book, I myself was no expert when it came to buffing and polishing metal. I mean, I knew the steps, but I did not have the velvet touch it takes to make a dull, damaged piece of trim look new. From that point on, I did some simple restoration myself, but when I ran into something a bit more challenging, I hit the highway to Freund’s shop (www.classicsplusltd.com) at 601 Lakeshore Drive in Fond du Lac, Wis. And that explains today’s blog.
Last week we had a piece of stainless trim that needed some fixing. A friend of ours had tried to buff the piece and got it snagged. It got a little twisted – not real bad, but enough to warrant a trip to Mike’s shop. Or, maybe that was just my excuse for playing hookey on a nice 30-degree day (Yes, we have nice 30-degree days up here!)
Or it could have been an alibi to check out Mike’s latest gasser build. It seems like Classics Plus always has a Tri-5 Chevy in progress.
As you can see, this time it was no different, except that there is also a ’54 Bel Air tucked away under plastic in one corner of the shop. I didn’t ask about that car, but I sure liked the Rebel Rouser ’55 Chevy, the primered ’55 Chevy and the Chevelle coupe that were in various stages of completion.
When I showed Mike the molding, he immediately pointed to a spot several inches lower than the twist. “This is really the point where things started happening,” he explained. “If we start here and make everything up the ladder blend in right, the piece will look just like it did from the factory, but may be a little shinier.”
So, that’s why we take things like this to the Straight Axle Straight Shooter. Simply put, he knows what he’s doing and he has the velvet touch.