This writer has loved Checkers for over 50 years and has devoted a significant amount of his life to their preservation. That said, I am embarrassed to say, I knew little of the Checker station wagon. That all changed with the recent acquisition of a 1967 Checker Model A12w wagon this past October. Once purchased I have sought as much information about Checker wagons a possible. Hopefully this will help in the restoration of my latest acquisition.
The purchased wagon needs a lot of work. The current plan is to perform a rolling restoration with the single goal of making the wagon, my official Checker tow vehicle.
Once I got the car home, I had to start the task of stripping the car of all the bolt on items and duct tape holding the car together. The good news is that this wagon is very solid with little rust. Just some rust on the bottom edge of the front hood, a rusty tailgate and a little driver side floor rust. As Checker go, its extremely straight and solid. Now it was time to learn about Checker wagons.
Starting my research I reviewed the 1966 Trailer Life review of the Checker. According to Trailer Life magazine “The ideal Marathon (trailer towing) package would consist of the optional 327 cubic-inched, OHV mill, with a quad carb, churns out 250HP, locked in with the automatic and a 3.31:1 ratio semi-floating rear end”. Well great news, my Checker is equipped as stated. More importantly is has every power feature offered and even has a Motorola heavy duty alternator.
As I always do, I like to take on the project with small baby steps. Step one, tackle the tailgate. As mentioned earlier, the tailgate has some rust holess. There is really two ways too tackle this restoration challenge, repair the rust or replace with a surplus tailgate. Thankfully, through the internal resources of the ICTA, getting a surplus tailgate was not a challenge. If you have read previous blogs about the Lawrence Checker affair, you may be familiar with the efforts the various ICTA members engaged in saving as many Checker parts as possible before the doomed fleet got crushed, the tailgate came from Lawrence.
Having a tailgate, is great, but knowing what to do with it is another challenge Hence the purpose of the blog, I need to strip the surplus tailgate apart and send it out for sandblasting. As mentioned above, I know little about Checker wagons. Upon reviewing Checker service manuals, I could find little material. Searching of manuals came up with nothing until I checked the ICTA web archive.
Deep in the archive in the Engineering Illustrations section, I found the documents that provide a full views of the tailgate and most importantly serve as a means to help me disassemble the tailgate. Perhaps the most significant donation of documents to the archive cames from John Logan, former Checker Motors Plant Superintendent. John first started at Checker in 1958, left during a strike period, then rejoined Checker in 1962 to stayed with Checker until retirement in 1998. John is actually responsible for the creation of the 1976 Checker 15 passenger Aerobus.
John has made three major contributions: Checker Production Reports 1966 thru 1980. Engineering Memoranda 1962 thru 1982 and Checker Illustration Manuals 1964 thru 1982. This donation has established our club as the foremost authority on Checker. With respect to the Checker Illustration Manuals: The Logan donation included volumes of Checker illustration from 1964 – 1982. The manual are big and thick, it will take years to scan and load all of them, we have loaded 1964-1978 onto the website. Each manual presents illustrations and parts breakdown for every Checker sub-assembly. CMC Parts Manuals are always a good source for illustrations, but these documents illustrate everything and each illustration includes a part bill of materials. Now its very easy to review every sub assembly right on the ICTA archive.
Thankfully once I got my hands on the documents donated by John Logan, I was able to disassemble the complete tailgate, now off to the sandblaster.
If you want to learn more about the archive, just click on the tab above in the header of this blog and enter the full world of Checker.