West Coast Eastwood

  • West Coast Report 28th Edition by John Gilbert

    Devil Outside Your Door – Eastwood Tech: Get The Smoothed Block Look — 91 Car Show, it’s Killer!

    It’s a powerful story, if you want to see more of it… sorry, that was for something else I was writing. Altec-Lansing, JBLs, Utah subs, tube amps, wires running everywhere like spaghetti strung on a tweed case, I’ve got my home office so packed with obsolete sound equipment boosting the signal coming out of my i7 27-inch Mac that its not funny. Weird maybe, but not funny. Anyways I’ve got a quick tech on here how to make your engine block and heads look smoothed without grinding using the SBC engine in the Hot Rod to Hell as an example, the recipe for a Caesar Salad tostada sandwich that I invented, and we’ll round it off with a review of the custom car shows I attended earlier this summer. Oh, and wouldn’t you know it my Altec just took a big dump. Oh well, back to the cheesy little speakers on my Mac for now.

     — John Gilbert

    Outlaw Rodder

    Fully-Smooth a Block Without Grinding

    Ever since the first time I saw a fully smoothed and painted engine at the Oakland Roadster Show many moons ago I’ve been absolutely crazy about the look. In the years since I’ve had the opportunity to see firsthand how Art Chrisman, the absolute master of the smoothed engine goes about getting his engines to look like jewelry. It’s a time-intensive process of grinding and polishing the rough cast iron until it just about looks like inside the ports of a pair of ported and polished heads. Bear in mind, the surface needs to still have sanding scratches deep enough for the paint to have a foot. Foot means grip.

    Needless to say going the complete route to fully smooth an engine takes a ton of time and materials. In the case of preparing the Hot Rod to Hell to go to Hell, time isn’t something I have a lot of. That said, I did want to raise the bar on how good the engine looks, so I figured out a way to get the look of a fully smoothed block merely by applying thick coats of primer, and sanding it down. Enter one of my favorite Eastwood products; High-Build Self-Etching gray primer in a spraycan. To follow it up for the color coat I used VHT Chevy Orange.

    After the engine was degreased with Chassis Kleen and contaminant stripped thoroughly with PRE my next step was to mask off the areas I want primered. An extra pair of un-needed Corvette 7-fin stagger-bolt valve covers worked great as a mask over the valves.

    Next I wet-sanded the engine with 320-grit smoothing the original GM black engine enamel, making sure to sand out factory runs, and trust me there was runs. I used compressed-air with a clean towel to dry the block. A quick follow up with PRE, and then I started spraying High-Build Self-Etching primer.

    Here’s a view of how I masked and draped a drop-cloth over the areas I didn’t want overspray on. I laid it on thick using one entire spraycan of HBSE primer.

    This was the first time that I painted an engine and didn’t mask off the exhaust ports. Once that Chevy motor fires up it will only be a matter of seconds before the overspray burns off and didn’t cause a bit of harm.

    HBSE primer dries fast and can sanded in short order, but I wanted to be sure it shrunk completely before wet-sanding smooth.

    I folded a small piece of 320 wet ‘n dry three times over itself to make a mini-sanding block of sorts. The idea is the same as blocking out a door, or anything else that needs to be straight (no dips).

    Side-to-side and circular motions making sure to shape all the way up around the port face.

    I spent one long day sanding the block and heads before there were ready for paint.

    Notice I broke the heads off the old spark plugs to mask the plug holes and keep crap out of the cylinders while I was working. Leaving the heads on the plugs would act a mask preventing thorough paint coverage.

    Before spraying the Chevy Orange VHT engine enamel on I blew the engine free of dust with compressed-air.

    As one can see there’s not a trace of rough cast-iron visible. Between using HBSE primer and spraying two cans of VHT engine enamel on the block and heads it came out pretty slick.

    It was almost 100-degrees out, 99 to be exact when I painted the engine. The paint would have flowed a little better had it been cooler. To compensate I hosed it on heavy.

    I was absolutely stunned how fast VHT engine enamel dried completely to the touch.

    It would look super slick like its under glass. I haven’t decided for sure, but I’m going to test 2K Aero-Spray Clear for compatibility as a top coat to go over VHT engine enamel.

    Outlaw Rodder

    Special Paint for Aluminum

    There really aren’t that many parts that need replaced on the Hot Rod to Hell because they’re worn out, but there is a lot of cosmetic deterioration that occurred while the car sat outside in the elements for five years. On a full blown restoration it's not unusual to tear everything down to the bare bones and media blast, or chemically dip. For this job it makes absolutely no sense to dismantle a freshly rebuilt automatic transmission just to bring its aluminum case back up to snuff.

    In between working on the T, I covered the engine with plastic, and then with a towel. I gave our cat a can of tuna as payment for guarding the T.

    As soon as I pulled the carb I covered the intake with tape to keep any unwanted surprises from falling in.

    The first step was to strip the grease and grime from the tranny with Chassis Kleen. I’ll do a tech in an upcoming edition to reveal some cool tricks for using Chassis Kleen.

    The transmission cooler really took a beating from battery acid leaking onto it. That was my fault, I was trying to get something to break on the car, before I left, and got airborne. When the car came down it busted the battery open. That was about 50 miles from home, I just kept driving, the battery kept leaking.

    I should have taken photos before I started. I didn’t quite like how the linkage was set up and modified the linkage. I used Silver Argent to paint the transmission case.

    Here’s a closer look. Notice the Silver Argent blends nicely into natural aluminum.

    Look at the light glare coming off that Silver Argent finish.

    Look at the intake manifold, that’s how it looked before I painted it with Detail Gray. A closer look reveals the bare aluminum has stains that wouldn’t come out without blasting, or hitting with Detail Gray.

    Detail Gray produces a really nice look. Here it’s still wet, you can tell by the glossy areas on the runners. In winter you can speed up drying with a heat gun.

    I love how Detail Gray looks when its dry, the perfect sheen that I was looking for.

    Looking head on into the Speedway Shotgun headers those polished stainless sure look wild. I figured out where I needed to mount the exhaust mounts for the Speedway headers before I painted the engine Chevy Orange.

    The starter looked pretty good, but it wasn’t vintage looking enough for me, so I painted the solenoid semi-gloss black.

    I masked it all up except the solenoid and went to town.

    Now I’ve got the look I’m after. Time is really starting to get tight for going to Hell with this car, so there should be a bunch of tech on it next week. Who knows, maybe a tech story on how I taught my cat, dog, and girlfriend how to help me spray the T body with 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black.

    Caesar Tostada Deluxe El Supremo

    Make Mexicali’s Latest Culinary Delight at Home

    Its not often one gets to invent a new taste treat, but I think that’s exactly what I did the other day while I was running low on meal ingredients, and high on Starbucks finest beans. In honor of Caesar Cardini the Tijuana based Italian chef that invented the Caesar salad back in the 1920s during prohibition I dedicate this marvel of gastronomic goodness to Caesar’s memory and Jayne Mansfield’s mammaries. Warning! may cause slight discomfort after ingestion, gaseous cramps followed by uncontrollable reverberating tremors, and profuse perspiration, unpleasant odors followed by sepia toned hallucinations. 

    At the heart of every, or at least the bottom of every tostada is a crunchy tortilla. All I had were the cheap ones that don’t brown very well. I think they’re mostly flour. In lieu of pork fat olive oil can be substituted. Don’t turn up the flame too high like this the edges will burn and the center will be raw.

    A good quality space-age plastic spatula can double as a fly-swatter, and there will be flies.

    Use only genuine California romaine lettuce hearts. Slice it up with a Buck knife and separate with your fingers. Keep fingers away from Buck knife blade at least most of the time.

    Here’s what happens with too much heat. Tortilla fires are not a laughing matter.

    Turn down the flame and try it again. Not that easy to do: In this photo I’m levitating a tortilla. Keep out of the desert and stay off Route 46.

    For a cheap tortilla this came out pretty good. It takes a young man’s life and it probably will.

    Be very cautious loading the tortilla into the frying pan after its been on for a while. Any presence of water and the hot oil will spit.

    To accelerate preparing the tortilla crank up the flame, and use the fly swatter / spatula to hyper-heat the tortilla center.

    There’s two methods to melting cheese onto the prepared tortilla shell. Here I have planted a lump, and allowed it to melt. This method produces excessive amounts of oily grease.

    In the family since the early 60’s this Ecko cheese grader works superior to anything available today. Try to find something that looks close, and hope it lasts.

    Using a microwave provided its not in as poor condition as mine works best for melting cheese. Experiment with time settings. Pick out paint scabs before eating if microwave ceiling looks like this one.

    You can still eat it, but too much heat (on too long) and the cheese will boil into an oily mess.

    The original recipe Cardini’s Caesar salad dressing is available. I bought this one at Walmart. Its been a few years, but Sam’s Club was a good source for the extra large family economy size.

    Slice the Romaine lettuce on 60’s vintage Corelle dinnerware. If not available the current stuff Walmart sells will work OK. Don’t forget to wash first.

    Make room on the plate, by temporarily removing the lettuce from the plate.

    Place the tortillas on the plate, and then replace lettuce.

    Add Caesar dressing and mix in. Fingers will work if you don’t have a clean fork.

    No Caesar anything is complete without pre-shredded Parmesan cheese.

    Apply Parmesan cheese liberally.

    Some might prefer Dave’s Insanity sauce for that extra bite of grim reality.

    Here for both ornamental color and seasoning I’ve applied Crystal Louisiana hot sauce. It’s pretty watered down, but it’s the cheapest stuff I could find.

    As with more conventional type sandwiches place the tortilla halves together like you would peanut butter and jam in between bread.

    Although Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Underhood Black is the most durable finish available for underhood applications it must never be used on food, not even Mexican food.

    91 Car Show

    The 2nd Annual Featured Chevy

    Friday afternoon August 2, 2013. I get a call from one of the guys in Pickups Ltd. asking if I can jam out the next day to cover the 91 Car Show in Anaheim.

    I was told free food was involved, but I have mixed emotions about covering shows that are held at the Canyon RV Park. On the good side it’s one of the nicest venues around because the park is tree-lined and has plenty of shade to stay cool in. On the negative side the place is tree-lined with lots of shade that creates shadows and that makes it hard to photograph cars without getting a bunch shadows mixed with sunlight.

    I slapped my trusty Canon SP580 flash on my 50D, and jumped on the 91 Freeway. In case you were wondering the show is not limited to only 91 cars, rather its named for the 91 Freeway. That’s how we roll in So Cal, we like to name things after a popular freeway. In fact some of our most famous serial killers were named for a freeway adjacent the killer’s hunting grounds.

    She hides in an attic behind a shelf of books based on herself. Sorry, I like to listen to Country Joe and the Fish at full volume when I write. And of course watch Wagon Train with the volume turned down. Look, its Saturday morning and I really need to get out in the garage. This is a pretty good show, and a great bunch of folks that put it on. Here’s a link www.91CarShow.com and if you get a chance to make it next year, look for me around the food truck.

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  • West Coast Report 27th Edition by John Gilbert

    Fiberglass Tech - Rustin’ Gold - Dodge my Garage

    Outlaw Rodder

    Fun With Fiberglass

    Here’s yet another tech installment on the Hot Rod to Hell. If you’re starting to get your chops working with steel, then you’re really going to dig how easy fiberglass is to work with. I was at church early last Saturday, that’s the donut shop at the corner of Magnolia and Adams in Huntington Beach, CA. when a fabricator buddy sniveled about fiberglass making him itch. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it was probably his personal hygiene, and not the ‘glass. Well, that’s not completely true, working with fiberglass does seem to effect gremmies when they start messing with it, but that goes away in a few weeks. Kind of like that new girl you started seeing when you made the mistake of introducing her to your weird friends too soon. Especially Wally, that guy’s a real screw-up.

    Here it is the #50766 USC Fiberglass Repair kit, its all anyone needs to get started learning all about using fiberglass. The directions are pretty easy to follow. Unless you built a lot of model cars, and airplanes when you were a kid you’re going to want to work in a properly ventilated area.

    I wish I could remember which edition it was of the West Coast Report, but somewhere back in the archives there’s a tech feature on how I went about cutting out the floor on the Hot Rod to Hell to make more room for my big feet. Onward and upward, after I got the opening cutout the next step was to hold a piece of cardboard from inside the firewall and trace the opening with a Sharpee (just like the ones celebrity welders sign autographs with) to make a template.

    Here’s my trusty Makita, I prefer to use battery powered as opposed to running a 5-horse 220-volt compressor to power a die-grinder. It’s a lot cheaper on electricity bills that way, quieter too.

    I sketch my cut-line out with a Sharpee, and then use masking tape to create highly visible cut-line. Not only that the tape lays a straighter line to follow.

    OK, I’ve been mixing resin and I forget what this photo means. I guess it means I should turn the exhaust fan on. Oh yeah this photo shows how I used the old fiberglass hood sides to make the repair sections. * See aluminum hood.

    Has anyone ever used a cat for a hood ornament before, I’ve seen big rubber rats on the hoods of rat-rods before. Those big rats are real and they’re know as Nutria. Google Hairy Bikers Nutria.

    Alright my head’s clear and its time to get back on it. Notice here how I used… what’s the name of that green s#*t? Everglass. Look to last week’s West Coast Report to see how to mix, and use Everglass.

    You can’t bend cured fiberglass (at least I can’t). I made the part in two pieces. Here I’m tracing the second half. Notice the top portion has been sanded with 36-grit. Rough sand Everglass before it cures completely, or you’ll be yelling at your dog, and she won’t know why.

    Any dirt, oil, grease, grime present and the fiberglass will not bond properly. PRE works perfect for stripping all that evil greasiness off.

    I’m sorry I didn’t take shots of laying the glass and soaking it with resin, but sticky resin-coated hands and $5,000 cameras don’t mix.

    After the patch was all glued together, and held in place with Everglass, I laid fiberglass mat over the entire area. Maybe not perfect work, but good enough to go Hell.

    Alright, I’m done, and Ruby’s got the garage covered. And here’s a handy tip. The Martin 13 piece fiberglass body and fender tool kit is not for doing body work on fiberglass bodies.

    Its time to go look at cars… Yeah that’s it, cars.

    Garages Customized Into “Ram Caves”

    Does My ’86 Dodge Ram Count?

    Warning! this baby is chocked full of hyper-links: I can’t tell you guys how much I wanted to tear into this canned press release with a few slight content alterations like I used to do at Tailgate magazine, but I’m going to display a rare moment of willpower and abstain. I do think I might enter this contest. How’s about a lame picture of my black ’86 Dodge Ram with the two wives and the dog poised next to it wearing Legalize Polygamy Now T-shirts. Anyways check it out, what’s to lose besides a contest? Enter now the contest ends October 6, 2013. Beyond here be Dragons.

    • Three grand prize winners will have their garages transformed into a customized Ram Cave

    September 12, 2013 , Auburn Hills, Mich. - The Ram Truck brand is working with top home improvement and men’s lifestyle influencers, including Bob Vila (Bob’s cool), Timothy Dahl of charlesandhudson.com and Brett and Kate McKay of artofmanliness.com, to showcase how Ram Trucks can assist with home improvement projects through the “Ram Caves” contest.

    Now through Sunday, October 6, Ram Truck fans can enter the contest at www.ramcaves.com for a chance to win a custom garage makeover with onsite design and renovation consultation from one of the three experts.

“Ram Truck is proud to partner with Bob Vila, Brett McKay and Timothy Dahl to offer our fans a unique opportunity to bring the style and design of Ram Trucks to their home garages,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO of the Ram Truck brand, Chrysler Group LLC.

    “The Ram Caves contest was built to engage fans and to celebrate the spaces where owners come together to spend time with their vehicles.”

Starting today, Ram Truck fans can enter the “Ram Caves” contest by submitting a photo and short essay that explains why their garage deserves to be renovated into a Ram Cave. Entries will be open for public voting through Wednesday, October 9. Following the public voting period, the three influencers will serve on the judging panel and will score entries based on creativity, public appeal (appeal as in a public outcry not to do my garage?) and cause for garage renovation.

    Three grand prize winners will be selected by a combination of judges’ scores and public votes. Renovations for each grand prize winner are slated for mid-November. Each renovation will be filmed, and video of the process will be released for public viewing in December on the official Ram Truck YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/ramtrucks). For more information on the “Ram Caves” contest, please visit www.facebook.com/RamTrucks.

    NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The Ram® Trucks Caves Contest starts 9/12/13 at 10:00 A.M. ET and ends 10/6/13 at 11:59:59 P.M. ET. Open only to eligible legal residents of the 48 contiguous U.S. States/D.C., at least 18 years old at time of entry. Click on Official Rules for entry instructions and requirements, prize details, restrictions, etc. Void in AK, HI, North Korea, and where prohibited or restricted by law. Sponsor: Chrysler Group LLC, 1000 Chrysler Drive, Auburn Hills, MI 48326-2766.

    This Contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administrated by, or associated with, Facebook.

About Ram Truck Brand
The Ram Truck brand continues to establish its own identity and clearly define its customer since its launch as a standalone vehicle brand. Creating a distinct brand for Ram trucks has allowed the brand to concentrate on how core customers use their trucks and what new features they'd like to see. Whether focusing on a family that uses its half-ton truck day in and day out, a hard-working Ram Heavy Duty owner or a business that depends on its commercial vehicles every day, Ram has the truck market covered in goodliness, and wonderful goo.

    The Ram Truck brand has the most innovative lineup of full-size trucks on the market. Ram Truck has emerged as a full-size truck leader by investing substantially in new products, infusing them with great looks, refined interiors, durable engines and features that further enhance their capabilities. Truck customers, from half-ton to commercial, have a demanding range of needs and require their vehicles to provide high levels of capability. Ram trucks are designed to deliver a total package. Package must fit inside bed, observe all safety rules, and always brush your teeth before you go to bed.

    I recognize her artillery… Janet from State Farm at 3 O’clock in the morning? A friend of mine recently commented just how radical the difference is between my office in Irvine, CA. and what the inside my of house looks like. Yeah, its true, I can just imagine a show on HGTV with some plus-sized inactive woman dragging some poor little squeak husband behind with them both all aghast at how much updating my pad would need. Especially all of that solid oak I put in the kitchen back in 1986. It didn’t matter that I spent a month hosing gallons of Deft on the oak to seal it, it still soaks up greasy fingerprints.

    I don’t deny it, anyone can tell I take a lot better care of my tools, and garage than I do my house, but that doesn’t make me a bad man. With exclusive Tweets from the cast… Gag, puke, barf.

    The thing is if a guy runs any kind of business at all he’s got to inspire confidence in his customers. I think that means not turning an office into a 14 year-old kid’s dream bedroom, but what do I know.

    An impromptu shrine one might say. I’d love to drag this little table to Antiques Roadshow some day. I flamed the fatbob  tank next to it in 1993. The plaque commemorating the most popular photo ever in Tailgate was made by Billy Winburn of Crestwood, Kentucky. http://www.streetrodderweb.com/features/0604sr_1937_ford_sedan/viewall.html

    Here’s my extensive WW1 German helmet collection that I started in 1959 when Grandpa Gilbert gave me the gray helmet at left. The other one I bought in Calgary at Crown Surplus for $35.00 a long time ago.

    I didn’t start out to become an abstract expressionist painter, it just happened one day when I plucked the rear window out of my ’66 Chevy C10 and went to town. Later that day I drove into town without a rear window.

    This sign from my custom paint shop has hung in every office including the corporate ones that I ever worked in. A guy has to have his traditions.

    I scored that newsstand out of the old Popular Hot Rodding office in Placentia when they were going to toss it out.

    The mural on my Snap-on box was a limited edition Snap-on offered painted by Dave Bell. I kept telling Dave Bell I was going to have him sign it one day, and then after too many years had passed it was too late. Less that be a lesson little shavers, don’t put off for tomorrow something you should have done yesterday.

    It’s Hell to get old, my hair is abandoning me, and blubber is overtaking my bones. Alright this is the lobby, please notice the dual-quad 312 Y-block and full-house flathead are maintained in dust free condition for your protection.

    My office is in “Boss” Bob’s Garage. Bob is a true patron of the arts. Otherwise if it wasn’t for Bob, I’d be working from an office in Santa Ana, with rats eating my toenail scraps, and buzzards combing my hair.

    From the Vicky Deuce looking back it’s pretty easy to tell Bob is a big Ford fan. The ’56 Buick is Bob’s only GM car. The ’59 Olds is just a guest… a rather large guest.

    There’s Bob enjoying a cigar that probably cost more than my GMC did brand-new. The Boss 429 Mustang is Bob’s only stock vehicle in the lot.

    A real famous guy bought this painting from me, but he didn’t want me publicizing the fact. Too bad, I hear when that happens you start selling paintings like crazy.

    Google “Love Forever Changes full album” and prepare to have your brains transported to a riot on the Sunset Strip circa 1968… or whatever year it was.

    Oh yeah that. I know it seems like I have an abundance of Kobalt rollaways, that one is my filing cabinet. Next to it is my favorite abstract hanging on that part of the wall. I use the RC controlled Harley V-Rod as a drone to deliver air-freshener to minimize the effects of gaseous warfare emanating from the restrooms after Taco Tuesday. All righty now, it’s time for the serious stuff.

    Hot Miscellanea

    Radically Hacked ’58 Chevy Caught Jamming North

    Photo by John Barkley, Street Rod Group Associate Publisher Chevy High-Performance, Custom Classic Trucks, Muscle Car Review: You never know who’s looking. I mean not like the cameras that are hidden everywhere one goes in public, and maybe even few places that aren’t in the public domain. I’m talking about those things that look like a cigarette pack or a hockey puck that people carry and point at things catching their eye. That’s exactly what happened to John Barkley, checkout the home-built ’58 Chevy Big-Window Xtra-cab longbed Fleetside John spotted heading North on a California freeway.

    Rustin’ Gold

    Julesburg, CO. Dream Shop / Home with a Junkyard View

    I don’t know if horny is a good word to describe how bad I want to get back out on the highway, but it works good enough for me. Looking back I’m glad I’ve spent a life out on the road seeing the countryside, and dragging old cars, trucks and motorcycles back home to California. The first photo is of the extremely low-mileage blown Buick Riviera I drove from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Julesburg, Colorado. Look behind it, and there’s a vacant restaurant I’d turn into house with a shop in back so fast it’d make Carlos Danger run for mayor of New York City. OK, maybe not that fast, but you get the idea, it looks like the perfect dream shop to me.

    Across the highway there’s a fenced lot full of rusty old vehicles. Some look savable, and some are terminally rusted out. This GMC longbed Fleetside based on what’s visible is either a ’62, or a ’63. The red and white Chevy in front of it is definitely a ’62… one year only grille.

    The faded Palomino Tan paint looked to be original. I’d prefer a Big-Window shortbed Fleetside, but this cool in its own right. Notice this is a Custom Cab.

    Try finding the side moldings this thing has intact on both sides. Hood off and in the bed of the truck, a tune-up, or oil change gone bad?

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  • West Coast Report 26th Edition by John Gilbert

    Arlen Ness B-day at The Petersen — Dream Garage in Fallon 

    I really dig it when an un-plan comes together. I decide what I’m going to run in each week’s West Coast Report by searching through image archives I’ve been collecting for upcoming articles, and then rely on a spur of last minute cosmic synchronicity to bring it all together. Sometimes it can take years for all of the story elements to materialize and then suddenly one day everything falls into place. As this is being written its September 9, 2013. Had he lived, today would have been my dog, Bongo’s 14th birthday. That’s Bongo on his 9th birthday sitting in between two editorial assistants while I at Custom Classic Trucks.

    WCE-26-ARLEN-02

    The Petersen Museum threw Arlen Ness a big birthday bash for his 74th celebration. I remember Arlen’s birthday is on July 12, because I called him on July 12, 2009 on his 70th birthday. I didn’t intend to bug Arlen on his birthday, but I needed some help writing an article about Jon Kosmosky and House of Kolor. Bongo died later that afternoon, and that’s why I’ll never forget the date for Arlen’s birthday.

    The photo credits for Arlen’s birthday bash go to the Petersen Museum.

     

    A close up of Arlen’s logo on the screen while the food line starts to pick up traffic in the background. It cost $95.00 to get in and the proceeds went to charity.

     

    I wasn’t there, but I’m pretty sure it was interesting hearing what Bruce Myer had to say.

     

    I’m guessing that’s Arlen’s wife at left. Arlen and Barry Weiss are both Hamsters. I don’t know about the rest of the cars, but that’s Arlen’s chopped ’56 Ford F-100 in front of his Victory shop in Dublin, CA. Arlen sold the truck years ago, and then discovered it recently on eBay.

     

    Always my favorite, the food line. I know the food is really good at Petersen Museum events, I ate there when Arlen helped debut the new Victory motorcycles one year.

     

    Here’s Barry giving Arlen a birthday kiss, it must be a Hamster tradition.

     

    Arlen signed it “to Lorenzo” Although I can’t recognize if that’s Lorenzo Lamas receiving the autograph. Gary Wood played Edward Furman on Air America.

     

    I’d say wearing a Hamster shirt means this guy is probably one of the Hamsters. In fact I’m surprised not to see a lot of Hamster shirts in the background of these photos.

     

    I really like the intricate patterns on her dress, it looks ornately metallic and silky smooth. Even blowing it up to the max I couldn’t make out her name.

     

    OK, now were getting into the photos I took of Art on Two Wheels. At rear right is the 2005 3-headed Monster. From Petersen text

    Called the 3-Headed Monster because of the number of cylinders in its unique engine, this custom by Cory Ness is powered by a 180-horsepower, three cylinder engine called a Fueling W3. The “W” refers to the arrangement of the cylinder banks, which resemble the letter W. Like radial aircraft engines it has a master connecting rod to which the other two rods attach. Ness converted the Ness Y2K Dyna frame into a rigid frame, handcrafted the gas tank and fenders, and added Evil-7 Ness wheels to complete the sinister theme. This chopper went on to win a 2005 episode of the reality television show Biker Build-Off.   

     

    The “Untouchable”

    Arlen Ness bought his first motorcycle, a slightly used Knucklehead, in 1963 for $300. Seeking greater distinction, he immediately began work on the bike, giving it a new look with a stretched gas tank and custom paint. A crowd pleaser from the start, Untouchable drew the attention of the media and led to Ness receiving orders for paint jobs on other motorcycles. But since Ness reinvested the money he made from custom paint jobs into his business, he could not afford to purchase a new motorcycle and reworked the 1947 Knucklehead often. Between 1963 and 1977, Untouchable took on various looks that included both Sportster and Tombstone gas tanks, high bars and drag bars, and purple, yellow and blue paint. The 74-cubic inch engine was replaced by a 100-cubic inch unit with a Magnuson supercharger and the stock transmission replaced by a unit-construction transmission from a Sportster.

     

    “Mach Ness”

    Arlen Ness began building his jet bike after seeing Jay Leno ride a similar version. He fit a turbine jet engine into an old Ness frame and used a single chain to deliver power to the rear wheel. An electric motor was mounted on the front wheel for starting the turbine engine and a clutch was installed to disengage it as needed. While most jet-powered motorcycles are built as sport bikes, this one was kept long and low to retain the jet theme. The all-aluminum body was hand fabricated by Bob Munroe and Carl Brouhard hand-painted the detailed graphics, including the rust and rivets. Keeping with the theme, the bike is equipped with afterburners which shoot flames a distance of up to ten feet.

     

    “Half & Half”

    A fan of the look of antique bikes, Arlen Ness modified an antique Sportster kit in order to create the light and nimble Half & Half. To build the bike, Ness chose a Harley-Davidson Shovelhead engine for an older look and borrowed the drive and transmission from a stock Harley-Davidson FXR. When completed, Half & Half was taken on a tour around the country, which included the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota and Daytona Bike Week in Florida. Ness admires the look of these antique kits so much that he keeps one mounted in his living room at home.

     

    “Top Banana”

    Top Banana was constructed in a mere 10 days as part of a competition for the reality television series Biker Build-Off in which two motorcycle builders compete to build the better bike. The motorcycle features a one-off frame, 145-cubic inch S&S supercharged engine, and dual custom-made front perimeter brakes with dual six-piston calipers on the rear. To retain a long and low appearance, the top of the bike’s frame was split into two bars so the engine could be fitted between them. Top Banana lived up to its name having been designated the winner of the build-off in Puerto Rico in December 2004.

     

    “Aluminum Victory”

    In 2003, Arlen and Cory Ness partnered with American motorcycle manufacturer Victory Motorcycles to build limited-edition models under the Ness Signature Series name. The bikes featured Ness aftermarket Billet aluminum accessories, custom paint schemes, and signatures on the side panels. This chromed custom has an all-aluminum frame and swing arm that together weigh an incredibly light 17 pounds. To further reduce weight, the gas tank and fenders were fabricated of aluminum. Victory Aluminum is powered by 106 cubic inch V-Twin engine and equipped with a front dual disc brake and inverted fork for better strength and rigidity.

     

    Here’s another view of “Half & Half”

    A ¾-view of Arlen breeding a Shovel FXR with vintage cues.

     

    “Sick Ness”

    The grandson of Arlen and son of Cory, Zach Ness has become the third generation to carry on the tradition of building radical custom motorcycles. Constructing his first bike before finishing high school, Ness has already become well-respected in the custom motorcycle builder community even as he continues to discover and develop his own individual style. Zach’s creations have been featured in many of the nation’s top motorcycle publications. To create this custom, Ness started with a Ness Y2K Softail chopper frame with an altered rear section and powered it with a 124-inch S&S engine. He completed the look of SickNess with features such as a custom Billet rear swing arm, custom pointed front frame scoop, and handmade gas tank and fenders.

     

    “Thin Twin”

    Blue Digger Son of the “King of Choppers,” Cory Ness followed in his father’s footsteps building and customizing motorcycles and created his own line of custom bikes. Thin Twin features a five-inch stretch Digger frame, a signature Ness design that sparked the trend toward longer and lower choppers during the 1970s. Its two custom gas tanks are bolted together by a ribbed seam in the middle and the 23-inch Ness Billet Bone wheels are powder coated and diamond cut. Steel triple trees connect the hand crafted fork tubes to the frame. Thin Twin is equipped with a kick start, magneto ignition, and custom front and rear perimeter brake rotors.     

     

    “Smooth-Ness”

    Inspiration for the motorcycle’s art deco design came from a sculpture of a 1932 Bugatti roadster sitting on Arlen Ness’s coffee table. Following the elegant lines of the Bugatti, Carl Brouhard drew the initial sketches and Craig Naff hand formed the curvaceous aluminum body which wraps around an experimental Ness rubber mount Softail frame. It is powered by a stock 80-cubic inch Harley-Davidson Evolution engine with a stock FXR transmission. To show off its high level of craftsmanship, the bike was ridden to several runs unpainted, but eventually completed to participate in the 1995 Oakland Roadster Show.

    Outlaw Rodder

    Patching Holes in the Hot Rod to Hell’s Nose

    People can say whatever they want about a fiberglass bodied car, but I gotta say fiberglass sure is fast and easy to work with. In an earlier West Coast Report I showed what the new Headwinds headlights with custom grilles are basically going to look like. So now in this week’s edition I’m going to demonstrate how to repair the big ugly holes left in the nose by the old headlights. There’s at least three different ways to repair minor holes and imperfections in fiberglass. The first which is a bad idea, is to use a polyester filler (bondo). Crack City, you can get away with filling imperfections, coarse sanding scratches, etc. with a polyester filler, but watch out when you use it where there needs to be structural strength. The next two methods using fiberglass mat soaked with resin, or Evercoat Everglass Filler are a much better way to go.

     

    For the four holes in the nose I determined Everglass would fit the bill just fine. A quick description of Everglass; it’s a Short strand, fiberglass reinforced body filler. High strength, high build and waterproof which makes it excellent for repairing holes, rusted metal, body seams and shattered fiberglass. Contains ZNX-7T for superior adhesion and corrosion resistance to bare steel, galvanized steel and aluminum.

     

    The inside view before starting.

     

    I used 36-grit sandpaper to rough up the outer surface to promote adhesion. Everglass filling in the deep sanding scratches adds strength to the repair.

     

    Ditto for the inside, I used 36-grit to rough the area up.

     

    Just about any kind of tape, masking, foil, or Scotch, can be used to make a barrier to retain the Everglass from squirting out.

     

    I mixed up the Everglass with the included Blue hardener.

     

    As soon as the Everglass was mixed I applied it to the inside of the nose.

     

    While the Everglass was still tacky I removed the foil tape.

     

    Notice there’s only a couple of small pinholes appearing after the first application.

     

    Here’s inside the other side. Notice there’s a heavy buildup of Everglass to add strength to the repair. To make sanding easy, start sanding the Everglass with 36-grit while its still tacky.

     

    To fill the pinholes on the outside I spread on Everglass and then block sanded it with 36-grit to get the basic shape. Remember, do it while still tacky.

     

    Once the Everglass cured hard, I block sanded the surface with 220, and 320 grit paper. You can use wet or dry paper, I wet-sanded.

     

    36-grit on a sanding block

     

    Work the block in a circular motion, and criss-cross. Also use a straight-line motion, but keep and eye open for how its turning out.

     

    After finishing in 220 or 320 I always use PRE to make sure the surface is contaminant free, so the primer will not fisheye.

     

    One of my favorite products, Eastwood’s High-Build Self-Etching primer works just as good as primer from a gun, and with much less hassle.

     

    You can tell from this shot the spraycan lays down a serious high-build coating of primer.

     

    Its amazing how fast Eastwood’s High-Build primer dries. After a couple of hours in the sun I was able to start block sanding. All primers shrink to some degree. After two days of curing longer I re-sprayed the area and block sanded again.

     

    On the way home from Hot August Nights in Reno one year I stopped by Marvin Sanders home in Fallon, Nevada to shoot his ’56 Ford for a feature in Custom Classic Trucks.

    While I was at Marvin’s I noticed there was a brand-new pole barn next door on a big lot with a for sale sign. Although I imagine I’ll live my life out in Orange County, CA. I’ve always had a dream about moving out to the country and living on an acreage with a shop big enough to store, and work on all of my cars, trucks, and motorcycles.

    And of course the big lot would come in handy for driving an old 9N Ford tractor around with a herd of dogs running behind it. I’m not sure how many wives they’ll let you have in Nevada… Just saying, its in the middle of nowhere you know. Did I say wives, I meant dogs… how many dogs?

    Here’s the view out behind Marvin’s green oasis. I had to really look to see through the greenery to next door.

    Here’s how far the pole barn sits back from the road.

    Here’s the front complete with a truck door.

    Here’s the backside.

    Here’s inside up front. I’m sorry I can’t remember how much they were asking for the property.

     

    This is Marvin standing ¾ ways to towards the rear of the barn.

     

    Notice the floors are still dirt. First thing I would have poured a cement slab.

     

    That’s looking into the rising morning sun. This is the view looking from the rear. It’s a long way to the next property.

     

    That dirt patch at right of the road is where the driveway was, or should I call it a dirt way?

     Rustin’ Gold

    “66 Chevy C10 in Fallon, NV.

    After I left from shooting Marvin’s ’56 Ford, I drove around the neighborhood in Fallon, and searched for stuff for sale. This ½-ton ’66 Chevy didn’t have a price, but it couldn’t have been much.

     

    It’s a dirty shame the truck is so rusty because its an original paint example with all the stock trimmings still in place. First year 327 V8 with 3-speed Overdrive, and Factory tach!

     

    Look under the visor, I guarantee this roof is ready to rust-through completely and turn this C10 into a roadster. I called the ph. number no one answered.

     

    This baby is a Big-Window, and that’s old truck gold! Notice the flush rear camper style bumper, never seen one like that. I think all ’66 Chevy’s came with backup lights.

     

    ‘Ol Loren bought her brand-new I’ll bet; On the side of the bed LOREN HARRISON Atlanta, MO. GVW 6,000 FARM is still legible.

     

    Notice this thing is so rusty the front fenders have big holes clean through. My guess is someone bought in Missouri and moved to Nevada, and then put it up for sale. Nevada trucks are usually rust-free for the most part.

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  • West Coast Report 24th Edition: by John Gilbert

    Fun with Poison - Garage Surrealisim - The New Peterson

    Nothing gets the dirt off like a good meteor shower… Because I drank just the right amount of coffee this morning I’m thinking this might not be a good time to mess with electricity. Nevertheless I’m going to hook my Altec Lansing ACS48 amp with speakers, and sub back up to my Mac. My girlfriend unplugged the Altec amp just because there was a loud buzzing sound coming out of it. I don’t worry about loud buzzing sounds until they’re accompanied by a bad smell, with flickering white lights penetrating through gray elastic smoke… anything short of an actual fire is OK. So catch me if you can, I’m going back. Anyone reading this ever play a Rickenbacker 12-string electric? Pinto beans are the backbone for my everyday diet. A Santa Ana, California, company Rickenbacker introduced the electric 12-string in 1963.

    For good eating it’s pretty hard to beat a good old fashioned cheeseburger, but I have to say my favorite gourmet fare is Mexican food. I’d like to begin the 24th edition of the West Coast Report with a DIY cooking tech. Let’s call it the DIY guy’s guide to cooking Mexican food at home. My parents, and I went on a lot of cross-country road trips during the 50s and 60s. When I was a kid growing up in California I always thought it was strange Mid-West and Eastern states didn’t have Mexican food. We ate Lobster in Nova Scotia. Lobster is an incredible ingredient to use in Mexican food, especially burritos, and enchiladas.

    In the 21st Century its hard to find a can opener that works well on 1-gallon bean cans.

    OK, I can see where this is going I better move on before I write myself into the unemployment line. After opening the can as far as possible with a can opener peel the lid back with a pair pliers. Normally I use this Craftsman pair of pliers, but when special guests arrive I bring out the good stuff, and use Eastwood pliers.

    Not related to either former President, I prefer Bush beans, over the generic brands that add too much salt. Believe it or not, not all pinto beans taste the same. There’s a specific authentic flavor to refried beans that I’d really like to know the secret recipe for. The Little Caboose in Anaheim, serve the best refried beans. That’s where the Eastwood crew goes to eat legit Mexican food while they’re here in California. Ask Matt about the original location, he’ll tell ya.

    After rinsing the beans in a strainer, pour them into a pan and repeat the process. Don’t do this at home, but I like to leave vintage cans of pre-banned DDT formulated Raid bug poison in the kitchen for that legit Mexican restaurant flavor of old. Pork lard tastes better than olive oil, plus its good for congesting arteries, and heart valves. Although there are theories the Capsaicin prevalent in hot sauce burns the grease and grime out of one’s veins like Roto-Rooter does to tree roots in a sewer pipe.

    I’m sorry I couldn’t wait, I should have taken a picture of what I cooked before I ate it. I’ve heard Tapatio isn’t available in Mexico, it really tastes great on fish. Adding Endorphin Rush works swell for people that don’t like to use caffeinated products to get alert.

    Hotter hot sauces such as Endorphin Rush can be added to hop-up tamer hot sauces.

    After ingesting hot sauce, I like to create abstract paintings, or go for a motorcycle ride.

    Before the Petersen Museum opened in Los Angeles a person had to drive to Sparks, Nevada to visit a good car museum, that was Bill Harrah’s collection. Uh, that’s not true depending on what years we’re talking about a person could drive 35 miles south of LA to Costa Mesa, and visit the Briggs Cunningham museum. Today, both Harrah’s and the Briggs Cunningham museums are long gone, but fortunately the Petersen is still around, and looks like things in LA are really starting to move to the next level. Some folks got their shorts in a knot over the Petersen selling off some cars to help finance the renovation, but I’m not worried. Bruce Myer is involved, and he’s done a ton of things in years past to help preserve the history of hot-rodding, there’s no way in hell any of this is a bad thing. Of course they did auction off a mini-Winnie, that’s a baby Winnebago motorhome. So the Good Sam club might have a few irate members over that move, but what are you going to do. And yes, there was the “Bojangles” Dusenberg.

    Here’s a link to a tour I did of the Petersen while I was editing Custom Classic Truckshttp://www.customclassictrucks.com/eventcoverage/0908cct_the_petersen_automotive_museum/

    Images courtesy of Petersen Museum. And now for the canned press release…

    THE NEW PETERSEN

    Iconic Southern California museum unveils plans for a stunning, sculptured metal exterior and cutting-edge interior with interactive displays, transforming it into the world’s finest automotive museum. The L.A. cultural landmark will showcase Southern California’s rich automotive heritage and will serve as a gateway to the city’s “Museum Row.”

    Los Angeles, Calif. (Aug. 18, 2013) – The Petersen Automotive Museum announced today that it will mark its 20th anniversary in 2014 by commencing a complete exterior transformation and a dynamic redesign of the interior, resulting in a world class museum that will showcase the art, experience, culture and heritage of the automobile.  Displays will feature the prominence of the automobile in Southern California, as well as cars, trucks and motorcycles from around the world. In addition to the facility upgrade, the new Petersen will feature a refined and upgraded permanent collection and an expansion of rotating displays, galleries, technology and story-telling, providing visitors with fresh, new experiences throughout the year.

    The exterior design by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates will transform the Petersen building into one of the most significant and unforgettable structures in Los Angeles.  Long ribbons of stainless steel will wrap around three sides and over the top of the deep red building, making a visceral statement that evokes the imagery of speed and the organic curves of a coach-built automobile.  At night, the color and forms will be lit from within to accentuate the steel sculpture and act as a beacon in the neighborhood known as The Miracle Mile.

    “As we approach the Petersen Automotive Museum’s 20th anniversary, our goal is to design and build an exterior as stunning as the vehicles and displays housed inside,” said Peter Mullin, the Petersen’s Chairman of the Board. “For two decades this museum has charmed visitors with its fantastic collection and its focus on education and entertainment. Our plan is to work with the best and brightest minds in architecture, automotive history and interactive design to give the people of Los Angeles and the world a place where they can be immersed in the culture, sights and sounds of the greatest vehicles ever built.”

    The transformation will extend to the museum’s interior as well, with a proposed additional 15,000 square feet of display space. Redesigned galleries will feature state-of-the-art lighting, digital displays and immersive learning stations that will tell the stories of the people and machines that changed the world over the past century. Education programs will showcase a restored and upgraded permanent collection that includes historically significant American and European classics, hot rods, groundbreaking race cars, the latest in alternative fuel technology, cars with Hollywood heritage and even vehicles designed and built in Los Angeles itself.

    The Petersen will continue the mission set forth by its founder, Robert E. Petersen (editor’s note: Yea, Bob!) to showcase the automobile’s role in art and culture, both locally and globally, while celebrating Southern California’s place as the epicenter of the automotive landscape.

    The museum will immediately begin a capital campaign to raise funds needed for the exterior renovations. For more information on the new Petersen, visit www.Petersen.org

    Anyone ever go to the Hoppin’ Grape in Calgary, circa ‘73?

    Tech Tricks

    Hot Rod to Hell; Fabricating Shock Mounts

    Cutting a short chunk of steel, tubing or pipe in a cutoff wheel (saw) can be a major hassle. The problem is trying to keep the little bugger straight in the cutoff wheel’s vice without it moving sideways. Using your fingers to hold the piece still is a bad idea… Duh.

    Here’s what a shorty anything does, it cocks sideways.

    The head on a ½-inch 20 bolt is the same diameter as ¾-inch OD x ½-inch ID. Clamp it down…

    Make sure it’s lined up and tightened down snug.

    Then make a perfectly square cut. Beautiful, huh?

    This method also works great to cut bolt ends off as clean, and squarely as possible.

    Here’s a slightly different view.

    I slosh cutting oil liberally when I drill holes. Leaving the parts oily when the next step is to weld is a good way to produce ugly contaminated welds if not start a fire. PRE works great, an additional use for Eastwood PRE is as a degreaser before welding.

    After flushing with Eastwood PRE, I used compressed-air to rid the area of any un-dispersed PRE. Note I used the drill press table as a welding table. Hey, it works swell in a pinch.

    Here’s the friction shocks beefed-up with a pair of Speedway chrome telescopic shocks linked in.

    Here’s a face on view of the front upgraded suspension along with Speedway’s polished stainless steel Shotgun headers. In addition to looking great the Shotgun headers route extreme heat further away from the oil filter, and most important of all the brake master-cylinder.

    I started prepping the body for paint last night. I’m loving the convenience of Eastwood’s high-build primer in a spray can. I hate cleaning a spray gun after I’ve worked all day.

    Oil Do’s, Don’ts and Dids

    Its almost like its a government, or new car manufacturer’s plot to accelerate getting older vehicles off the road. In California, there’s no doubt legislators want cars off the road, but this is a national issue. There was no warning when the oil manufacturers took the ZDDP completely out of the oil was what a Comp Cams rep told me at MPMC, SEMA’s media trade conference in 2012. The discussion came up when I’d mentioned around 2006 we started having new engines blow up on the dyno with bad cams before we figured out what was happening. In short ZDDP is an anti-wear additive essential for use in post WWII engines with higher compression and higher valve spring rates up to around 1989. Naturally I’m going to mention Eastwood sells a ZDDP additive that can be added to any motor oil. Its especially a good idea to have ZDDP in the crankcase of any flat-tappet OHV, SOHC, DOHC engine that’s new and needs to be broken in right. From there on out the correct level of ZDDP needs to be maintained. Its been said ZDDP attacks catalytic converters, but what good is perfectly good cat if you’re engine blows up? One needs to know if their engine has flat or roller tappets (valve lifters). From memory, catalytic converters appeared on US made cars in 1975. Some pickup trucks like the Ford F-150 and Chevy C10 Big 10’s (Heavy Chevy) were cat free until 1978. Enough of the vintage stuff.

    The type, or brand of oil one pours in their modern engine with roller lifters, and all of that other complicated features like cylinders that shut down from 8-6-4, and variable valve timing is equally important. There’s some modern engines that love to blow up when the wrong oil, or dirty oil is left in the engine too long. That old adage “oil is cheap insurance” is as true today as it ever was. In the old days a little sludge helped to cushion some engine parts. Ford Y-block engines with too much sludge (coking) plugged oil galleys to the top end, and stopped oil flow. Early small-block Chevy engines oiled too-much to the top end and partially choked passages in hollow pushrod tubes actually helped the problem. In today’s engines any trace of sludge and passages plug-up and premature death is inevitable.

    Two GMC trucks and two different types of motor oil required. I bought the black ’05 GMC brand-new, and oil-consumption wise its been a real disappointment ever since. I drove the ’05 to the Colorado border and back to break it in right, and it was all for nothing.

    After I dumped the manufacturer’s break-in oil, I’ve only used premium brand synthetic oils in the 5.3 L59 Flex-Fuel engine. Always use jackstands and shake the vehicle to make sure it doesn’t rock before climbing underneath.

    This is the oil change station in my home garage. Notice the air nozzle hanging from my Eastwood retractable hose reel. Everything related to changing engine oil should be clean. I use the air nozzle and a clean rag to make sure the funnel is clean before pouring the oil in.

    Removing a poorly accessible oil filter can be a real bear. I’ve got almost every type of oil filter removal tool made. Installing a spin-on filter should only be tightened by hand. Get it as tight as you can by hand.

    Since day one I’ve used a 6 point 15mm box end wrench to remove the drain plug on the ‘05. Be careful not to over-tighten the drain plug. Real snug will do.

    You don’t have to, but I like to prime the oil filter before installing. I change the oil filter every time the oil is changed.

    You should lubricate the oil filter gasket (square edged O-ring) with fresh engine oil.

    Since new I’ve used Mobil 1, Royal Purple, Pennzoil Platinum all complying with the manufacturers recommended viscosity on the oil filler cap. My ‘05 GMC has a little over 80,000 original miles on it. It doesn’t matter which brand, this pig guzzles two quarts of oil in between recommended mileage intervals.

    Choosing which engine oil to use is all about having faith in the brand. This is a subject that will really get the Internet wizards to spring into keyboard action. I just started using Quaker State in the ’05, I’ll report back on oil consumption. I can say the L59 sounds really good running quiet with this oil in it.

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  • West Coast Eastwood 22nd Edition: by John Gilbert

    Semantic Drift — Her Favorite Color Isn’t Chrome

    What’s worse than discovering Bolivian fecal hornets have built a nest hidden deep inside your toilet bowl, or how about getting hired and fired from a great job all in the same day?

    Get ready, this one is really bad news. The creative young professional nerds responsible for transforming some of your favorite words into meaning modern gibberish just got their fiendish little fingers on chrome. That’s right, chrome.

    Can you just imagine Trace Adkins singing about some lady that’s all crazy with elevating moisture levels over a fast free browser that unifies her toaster with her Magnavox hi-fi, and that helps turn on her Malibu lights?

    What’s next renaming bum wad, synchromesh rings? Have you noticed there’s a lot of exuberantly styled houses on this street. Alright, I’m warmed up, lets get onto some tech, and maybe even a few event highlights.

    Oh, and further into this report I’ve got a couple of quick peeks at the Tribute T Rod & Custom’s tech editor Kev Elliot built in an astonishingly brief amount of time for you. I’m not quite sure how Kev was able to keep up with all of his magazine deadlines, traveling, and front lawn mowing and still be able to pull it off. Must be those fast-drying paints from Eastwood.

     —John Gilbert

    Outlaw Rodder

    Friction Gets Tubular

    Here’s a shot of the T before I added Speedway Motors’ chrome telescopic shocks. As covered previously I’m swapping out the bug-eyed Model A headlamps for some reworked Headwinds headlights with machined aluminum grille bars that match the Track T grille bars.

    Last week I described there was a need to beef up the Hot Rod to Hell’s front suspension, but at that point I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do. I used Speedway Motors combination shock tower headlight mounting kit as a starting point to figure it out. That’s just how it is, its easier to start with a physical example to imagine what needs to be. The Speedway kit makes for an quick and easy way to handle the job on a conventional set of T rails, but the presence of the rounded front crossmember and trying to work around the track nose created  problems.

    I really like how clean the friction shocks appear, but I’m not too keen on hitting potholes on the Interstate without beefier shocks.

    After studying several front shock setups on other people’s track Ts I decided to devise a cantilever setup that would tuck inside the track nose. The idea was to bolt the US made, chrome-plated Speedway telescopic shocks out of sight. I know, it’s a sin to hide chrome.

    I flunked algebra, and didn’t take geometry, but I was familiar with the term suspension geometry. First I marked the friction shock arm with a Sharpie dot to observe the arc the dot traveled in.

    I needed to establish a point where the dot traveled as far front to rear as possible without moving up and down. Note the best spot was on an angled area.

    I drilled a 5/16-inch hole in the arm at the same angle as the arm’s pickup points. Then made a mount to temporarily hold the shock absorber in place to test if the concept worked.

    If the location was wrong the 5/16 hole was small and easy to weld up. In the next three photos note the angled wedges used to hold the bolt parallel.

    Next was to establish the angle the shock should be positioned at. The wood block is the same width as the frame rail. Its faster and cheaper to use wood in the mockup stages than steel.

    Top view: I viewed all angles and moved the friction shock arm up and down to ensure this would be the right location for the tubular shock to mount.

    With the front of the shock bolted in place, I determined the top mount location by placing the shock in the middle of its travel.

    The T off the wheel dollies and resting at ride height notice how good the Shotgun headers look close to the ground.

    Satisfied the shock mount bolt on the friction shock arm was located in the right place I drilled the hole out to ½-inch to accept the shock bolt.

    You never know when you might need something to help mock something up. This wedge I’ve had in my goodie drawer for at least 30 years.

    To drill the wedge out to the correct bolt hole angle I used the drill vise to hold the flat side up flush with the flat deck of the drill vise.

    I installed the ½-inch 20 shock bolt exactly as it would be when the job was done.

    I used heavy gauge flat strap C-clamped to the block of wood as a fixture to simulate a completed upper shock mount.

    With the T’s full curb weight on the ground I checked to make sure there was clearance between the shock and the frame.

    Next I lifted the T into the air to see what happened when the front axle dropped.

    Here’s another view.

    It was important to ensure there was enough shock travel up and down. Here the front axle is hanging as far as it will drop. With the Heim joint bolt out the shock travels further indicting more than enough shock travel downward.

    Here the shock arm is fully collapsed upward with the T on the ground. Note at ride height the Heim joint shows there is a lot of upward travel before the should would bottom out.

    Fully-collapsed this angle shows the shock clears the frame.

    With the axle dropped. Look how much further the shock arm travels than needed.

    I’m hoping by next week I’ve picked up the steel needed to fabricate the upper shock mounts and show how the job came out. I’m liking this shock mounting configuration because it totally conceals the tubular shocks while providing heavy-shocks for serious road work.

    One Rare Bird

    Kelly Owens’ ‘42 Mercury Station Wagon… plus a little Ford woody history

    This 1942 Mercury “Woody” wagon is a rare bird for several reasons. First a 1942 anything is rare for American made vehicles. December 7, 1941 marked the official beginning of the United States entering World War II and civilian production of cars, trucks, and motorcycles came to an abrupt halt. Mercury ceased production February 10, 1942.

    There were 897 1942 Mercury wagons built and half of that number were sold to the US government for military use. In 2013 there are only 10 ’42 Mercury wagons known to exist.

    This particular Merc wagon is the rarest of all ’42 Mercs because it is the only ’42 wagon that was custom built with Birdseye maple. An exotic wood, Birdseye maple wasn’t an available option. Henry Ford specified Birdseye for 10 cars custom made for dignitaries.

    In other words this ole lumber wagon was a “brass hat” car. Henry Ford believed strongly in owning and controlling all of the natural resources FOMOCO used in manufacturing. And a lot of the natural resources came from within Michigan.

    Kelly Owens’ Mercury won Best Wood at Wavecrest the annual woody meet held in Encinitas, California.

    Here’s an amazing find considering woody wagons are subject to termites and wood rot. This ’36 Ford woody still has its original paint and short of an early Corvette engine under the hood is a true survivor.

    Ford created the village of Alberta, Michigan, and opened its Alberta, sawmill in 1936. No doubt this ’36 Ford wagon is a product of first year production. Ford donated the town of Alberta to the state of Michigan in 1954. The ’51 shoebox Ford woody was the last real wood wagon Ford built. The Iron Mountain, Michigan plant built woody wagons, and ceased wagon production in 1951. If I’m wrong on any these facts please feel free to complain.

    Rod & Custom’s Tribute T

    In the Home Stretch

    Eastwood products galore — Loyal Rod & Custom readers should be familiar with the Tribute T project, tech editor Kev Elliot has building in the pages of R&C, its based on a Speedway Motors T-bucket kit. I’ve swung by the Source Interlink tech center a few times and have watched the T’s progress in person, and I have to tell you Kev does really clean work. It’s always neat to see how Kev solves some of the problems that always come up in a ground-up build… did I mention he does clean work? That’s Jeff Styles stripping the T, Kev Elliot armed with 12-inch Snap-on crescent wrench, and Jason Scudellari pouring oil into the Wimbledon White engine.

    For the Hot Rod to Hell, I chose Speedway Motors’ 4 into 2 polished stainless steel Shotgun style. The Tribute T is getting a set of Speedway’s chrome-plated 4 into 1 headers that dump into a collector.

    What’s looks like an octopus eating an air-conditioner is Kev wiring the engine up to run. Ultimately the Tribute T debuted at the 2013 Louisville Street Nats with shortened plug wires and lookin’ good. That sounded pretty dumb, huh?

    The Tribute T’s ultra deep gloss Boulevard Black urethane paint is from Eastwood. Stripes by Jeff Styles.

    Its funny how many guys like to use these 6-foot long folding tables for a portable workbench. I’ve got one myself… In fact I need to clean the thing off, so I can load it up again.

    Rustin’ Gold

    ’56 Ford F-600 in a Colorado field

    An easy low-buck route to building a classic pickup on the cheap is to find a bigger truck like this field find ’56 Ford F-600 and pare it down into an F-100. All it takes is a new aftermarket chassis, or a used donor F-100 frame, and you’ve got the makings of a pickup. Take a look at the louvers on the cowl an area that’s really prone to rust on ’53-56 F-100 and it doesn’t look bad at all. Other areas that rust are higher from the road and don’t get subjected to as much rain water and mud like the pickups do. Notice the F-600 running boards are abbreviated in comparison to a ’53-56 F-100 pickup.

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