by Willy Vinton
Often we are asked where we find replacement parts to keep our cars operational. Some we fabricate ourselves, while others might be available from vendors like Restoration Supply Company. A more exciting and social way to obtain parts is to hunt for them at a swap meet. There are a number of these meets held throughout the country, and we try to visit several every year.
First on the schedule for us this year is the Chickasha Pre-War Swap Meet in Oklahoma March 15-16. This meet is limited to pre-1945 automobiles, parts and transportation items. The weather there has been nice each time I've gone. One year, however, we got to experience a good old Oklahoma wind and snow storm after the meet, which held up our airplane and caused us to miss connections up the line.
We also hope to attend the Bakersfield National Swap Meet in April and the famous Hershey Flea Market in October. The vendors that come to the meets are dedicated to the hobby of old cars and memorabilia, and offer a wealth of information and parts. The meets are not just a great source for locating hard-to-find and rare parts, they also give us a chance to network with suppliers and meet others who are antique auto enthusiasts. All have fun stories to share, so be sure to budget some time for socializing as well as shopping.
At a swap meet you must be prepared to get your hands dirty, as you may find yourself digging through piles of rusty, greasy items to find your treasure. If you do find that rare part, my advice is to buy it immediately. Don't wait, or when you come back there's a good chance it will be gone. Remember to bring good walking shoes, a back pack, light and heavy jackets, and CASH (few vendors take checks or credit cards). Also, remember that there is no JUNK there, only treasures and good usable, or restorable ITEMS.
Hope to see you there.