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1951 Quonset hut resto-mod progress report

I found this Sprite bottle while kicking around behind a run-down Quonset hut near my home four years ago. The Gods must be crazy, I thought, to put this bottle in my path, but why not… how ’bout we convert this giant metal tube-like building into a Bugeye Sprite dispenser? And like “Pez,” we’ll spit them out, all spiffy and sweet. Could it be possible?

What is now our backyard was a mess when I first saw it in 2015. It was overgrown and generally neglected, with a rotten picnic table that was perhaps once a hobo’s bed (we’re right next to the train tracks). When hobos went the way of dial-up internet, feral cats moved-in, and each time I visited, the brush would rustle, and something furry would scoot off into adjacent underbrush.


First, we removed the brush, graded the yard and installed an extensive drainage system

Fast forward to the present, and now this is one of the nicest sites you can find on the North side of the train tracks if you are riding the Amtrak train between New Haven to Boston, at least if you are into classic cars, or classic Quonset huts, or both.

Here’s that same original rear wall, now enclosed by the addition. Note the new stairwell, which allows access to the largest collection of Bugeye Sprite doors on the planet.

Needless to say, I am just a bit giddy now that this nearly four-year long build-out is about done. The old, crappy, back wall of the building has remained the dividing wall between the original building and our addition until now. This week, we connected the new hut to the old hut, uniting the original structure to the addition, courtesy of a new clear glass partition.

Tear down the wall!

The real hero in this story is our man Kenny, who cut down the metal wall separating the two structures, (and pretty much built the whole addition too). Our neighbor, conveniently in the glass panel business, erected a wall of glass divider between our old and new buildings. This glass wall allows everyone to watch our chefs behind the glass as they cook-up the next Bugeye in their little cantina.

One long tin can

This see-through wall was no small feat. Of course everything had to line-up. And because the new building is a bit lower then the old building, the corners were particularly fussy, lest the new glass protrude beyond the ceiling height of the addition. This meant for quite a bit of custom fitting in the field, made easier by virtue of the glass wall making facility directly across the street. In fact, all the pieces and parts were wheeled over under human power, instead of loaded into trucks as is their usual routine.

New aluminum extrusions that will hold the glass panels to form a see-through partition. The angled corners, and the sprinkler pipes, had to be in the right places. It was a bit like getting the door gaps right on a restoration.

In the end, The Eagle landed right in the Sea of Tranquility. The two halves of the chunnel aligned. The new gaping hole through our building looked good from both inside and out. All that’s left is a few more glass panels and a new overhead door. And then we can pretty much put our Quonset hut renovation behind us. I’ll show you final photos when we are done in the next week or so.

The view from the original Quonset hut

This headquarters is the realization of a crazy vision I had to make a visually exciting space that would blend old and new. I wanted the home of this business to make a statement that would be apparent to all who entered. This building, and this business, is about producing quality products and about fabricating solutions to make wonderful old things functional in the modern world.

Same view as above, without wall. Glass panels go in next, along with a new overhead door, so cars can pass-through. Thank you to Tappe Architects in Boston, and Cherry Hill Glass in Branford, who helped us to realize our vision!

Bugeye Loading Dock

2015, when we first moved in

2019 and countless Bugeyes later… only the staircase is “original” (railings are next).

Our facility continues to move forward to it’s fully renovated state. It is the mother of all restorations, and it keeps going and going. This week though, we had a breakthrough with one of our biggest challenges, loading dock drainage.

Cedar face, arched roof, new doors and more… but still too much water.

We’ve had a very tough time trying to get our loading dock to drain properly. We have ground the concrete dock extensively, trying to pitch the dock toward the driveway, and it hasn’t worked. The water was still pooling in front of the door, leaving us at risk for big ice patches right where we don’t want them. This week, we grooved the dock, and each groove is pitched outward, and finally we have drainage where we need it.

Our 1951 Quonset Hut is marching forward to completion!

Building a better Bugeye headquarters

Restoring a 1951 Quonset hut is a bit like restoring a car, only bigger, with more zeros attached when writing the checks. We are nearing the end of our massive facility restoration, and we will all be really happy when we are done. This past week, our lead technician “Russ the mechanic” was on vacation, so we took advantage of the down-time to move everything out of the way and refinish our concrete floors.

This was a monumental undertaking, facilitated by the diamond grinder shown here, and two courageous operators.

Everything had to be moved multiple times, so we could grind in sections. The concrete dust was intense. I must have been licking the floor in my sleep, because the taste of concrete is still with me.

Emerging today is our new light gray coated floor, soon to be completely impervious to the various classic car fluid leaks it will face in its future. You can see the new gray floor coating at the top of the picture above.

As with any good restoration, there have been multiple interesting and creative decisions to make. We have tried to leave the building “original” where possible, to honor the history and keep the vibe of the space in tact. To that end, we tried to use a clear coating for the floors, and so they were ground to smooth them out and remove some imperfections. Our intention was to let the deeper imperfections remain to acknowledge the history of our home.

Unfortunately, the clear coat was not to anyone’s liking-too many oil stains were still showing and the floor darkened dramatically, which made out Bugeye hut look more like a cave. So we made a last minute change to light gray, and now our space it brighter, and uniform, in a sea of other mottled surfaces.

That’s not a bad thing.


Friday at 6AM the team moved everything out of the center of the floor onto the first finished section, and then more gray goop was spread-on, so that by Monday morning, we’ll be off and running once again. We have a bunch of British cars we need to get back on the road! Below, you can see the guys moving everything from the center of the building onto the now dry section of floor, so the rest of the floor can be coated to dry over the weekend.

Thank you all for your interest and support! More updates to follow! Next up… epoxy-coating the basement floor of our parts warehouse!

Contact us at David@bugeyeguy.com or call (203)-208-0980 during business hours