West Coast Eastwood

  • West Coast Report 21st Edition by John Gilbert

    When Bubble Tops Attack — Benign Politics Produce Gaseous

    Results & Mood Food… Neutered Brains Rein

    Do you understand your role in the spectacle? These babies may hold the answer. I started thinking (with the help of watching TV) about the human condition focusing on the World’s mentality and the next thing I knew — ](%Martians are —robbing**my­­­____ 1234— brain… salty rich basting butter, help, help Mr. Nixon. That’s it no more organic strawberries from Yorba Linda for me. Starbucks arrives in Southern California, road rage ensues. Did you ever notice road rage didn’t exist on a grand scale before then? When they outlaw coffee, only outlaws with have coffee.

    Fast-forward three hours. I’m back, I had to step away from the keyboard and present a bountiful present to the Metamucil gods. Notice there’s more than one Metamucil god. I wrote it that way, so my new California religious cult could attract more followers than mainstream religions with only one deity. And we’re not going any further with this… a guy can get killed talking about religion.

    ­California is really starting to fall behind on producing good controversial religious cults, so I’ve personally appointed myself to see if I can do something about it. First I need people to send me money, and then a place where we can all gather in a building on prime real estate and enjoy a tax-free status… Argh, I’ve allowed my designer Salmon oil Omega 3 capsules I bought from Uncle Sam’s Club to marinate a little bit too long.

    I have a yearning in my brain to arrange for a prostrate scan. On second thought, I’m going to wait until the Cruise For a Cure comes to the Orange County Fairgrounds. Now, I realize there’s six different states that have an Orange County, including Minnesota, so I better specify California. Holy crap, I don’t know what any of this all meant, but it sure was fun to write.

    On to more serious things. I don’t want to bum anybody out, but we’re living in a postindustrial age with an ever increasing presence of the service sector displacing agriculture, and manufacturing.

    Gary Chopit, with sons, Nicholas, and Fabian are building some incredible creations at their Stanton, California shop.

    I predict this fall there’s going to be a new show on TV called “When Bubble Tops Attack.” The premise is a shameless knockoff of that dorky bespeckled guy that writes all those really good science fiction stories. Under the Dome, ring a bell?

    Stefano Kink sells plots to the US government to be resold to the American public.

    I love the smell of burning tortillas in the morning. Every tattoo I have means something. This one here means I was drunk. Sometimes a burnt cornflake can look like a fly floating in milk amongst properly baked cornflakes.

    All I started out to do this morning was ask whatever happened to Mr. Potato Head. A rare look inside the hermit kingdom. What did happen to Mr. Potato Head? Listen to the rhythm of the falling rein.

    I have to go now. Passenger carrying drones are flying in California’s air space. WTF auto-pilot trains and planes? People are nervous, I think I’m losing it. I’m going out into my garage and work on the Hot Rod to Hell. Don’t worry the rest of the 21st edition of the West Coast Report will be completely serious. Yeah, like anyone read this far. Drone automobiles are already legal in California. Don’t believe me, Google it. There’s another name for it, but nevertheless they’re drones. Have you ever noticed clone rhymes with drone? My brain hurts. Don’t forget to send money to my new California cul… er, religion. Yes, it’s a religion. Red Mountain Kool-Aid straight from California’s

    Shop Tour

    Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim

    Here’s an example of a California grown family business that’s sticking it out in the “stick it to business state”. The first time I spoke with Jim Buchanan was in 1971 at Buchanan’s Frame shop in Monterrey Park, California. Jim’s shop was up the street from Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson in Rosemead. I used to lace up the wheels for the Harley’s I was chopping, and then take the wheels to Buchanan’s and pay $10 to have them trued.

    Ask anyone that’s ever had to figure out how to lace a non stock wheel to a Harley-Davidson hub, and it won’t be long before the name Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim enters the conversation.  Founded in 1958, the same year Harley-Davidson introduced rear suspension on big twins, Jim Buchanan opened the doors to Buchanan’s Frame & Wheel Shop in Monterey Park, California.

    At first the shop was located in an old tin sided gas station, but it was all Jim needed to tweak a frame, or lace up a new set of chrome spokes on a sixteen to help a customer beautify his full-dresser. In 1961, Jim and wife Vernice had saved up enough money to buy property on which to build a new shop. The cement block building was erected at 629 East Garvey just a little north of Laidlaw’s Harley-Davidson in neighboring Rosemead, California.

    The additional work space helped to handle the ever increasing demand for crash repair, and custom frame work on Harley-Davidsons as well as numerous other motorcycle brands.

    The stretched wheelbase produced by Jim Buchanan’s neck raking took to the mainstream in 1969 when Easy Rider premiered at the movies. Although choppers with a kicked neck had been around for years it was the Captain America, and Billy bike built by Buchanan’s customer Cliff Vaughs that put the style in the mass public’s eye.

    Focusing on his role as the associate producer of Easy Rider, Cliff asked mentor Ben Hardy to construct a pair of Easy Rider crash doubles with Buchanan’s yet again responsible for the frame work, and wheel building.

    By 1970 the customizing trend to fit everything from a 750 Honda to an 18-inch Sportster rear wheel with a 16-inch hog rim was in full swing. Unfortunately as the demand for spokes was increasing Buchanan’s supplier in England was gearing up to get out of the business. Fortunately for Buchanan’s they were made aware of the situation and were able to buy the equipment, and have it shipped from England to California. The Dayton swaging machines originally manufactured in Torrington, Connecticut, by the Torrington Company and shipped in the 20s to Coventry Swaging, Torrington’s subsidiary in England. were now housed under Buchanan’s roof.

    Interestingly not one piece of Buchanan’s manufacturing equipment is as it left the factory. A good example is the two Dayton swaging machines Buchanan’s modified in the 70s to work more efficiently utilizing an electro-hydraulic unit sourced from a B-17 ball turret. To manufacture nipples that are free from rough edges on both ends the Buchanan family scratch built an intricate, and extremely costly machine.

    In the 21st century Buchanan’s is the only wire wheel builder in the United States that manufactures its own spokes, nipples, and rims in-house. Every phase of Buchanan’s manufacturing is a process that forges a part into shape rather than grind, or take away material to produce. Instead of cutting spoke threads, threads are rolled into specs that produce a precise fit. In addition to offering Sun wheels, Buchanan’s own brand they offer numerous other brands to choose from including Akront, Spin Werkes, and Excel.

    Beyond traditional appearance wire wheels offer low un-sprung weight, and the ability to adjust the offset after the wheel has been manufactured.  Now in its 54th year, and continuing to manufacture successfully in the de-industrialized state of California, the Buchanan family is to be commended for keeping a lost art alive.

      John Gilbert

    California grown and family owned Buchanan’s Frame shop, dropping frame work from its services offered to the public became known as Buchanan’s Spoke & Wheel. The original frame table several of my Harley rigid frames were raked on in ’71 is still in use for family projects.

    All the raw materials, stainless steel, carbon steel, and aluminum Buchanan’s manufactures with comes from the United States. In the shop working since he was 6 years old, here’s Kennie Buchanan standing next to stainless steel wire headed to the straightening machine.

    Pulled into the Lewis straightening machine (founded 1911) the stainless steel wire is drawn straight, and cut into eight foot lengths destined to become spokes.

    The eight foot lengths are then loaded into the Dayton swaging machine where a taper is cold forged into the semi-formed spoke that increases the strength of the spoke. This very machine made spokes in England from 1920 until 1970 when it was then sold to Buchanan’s.

    Now company president here’s Robert Buchanan he’s been working at the family business for 33 years. The machine Robert is standing next to cuts heavy stainless, or carbon steel into stubs that are forged into nipples.

    Here’s a look at more nipples than a lifetime subscription to Playboy. Note the nipple centers are as of yet un-drilled.

    At this stage the machine pictured performs numerous operations leaving the nipples readied for completion in one last machine. The last machine the nipples enter is a one-off piece of equipment Buchanan’s custom built in-house to smooth both ends of the nipples.

    Buchanan’s Sun wheels start with a 30 foot length of extruded virgin aluminum, clipped to a specified length, and then rolled into a hoop.

    The Sun wheel hoop is then straightened, and fused together seamlessly with 440-volts of electricity.

    Next the Sun wheel hoop is placed into this machine, and cold forged with extreme pressure into a near exact wheel shape.

    The final step for the Sun wheel blank is a quick spin in the CNC Haas horizontal machining center. The result is a wheel hoop that conforms to tighter tolerances than possible in past years.

    Here’s how spoke holes are punched in low volume. Not pictured is an automated wheel drilling machine Buchanan’s built in-house at a cost exceeding $100,000.

    One of the nicest guys you’d ever want to meet, here’s Jim Buchanan lacing and truing a pre-war WL wheel. If you’ve got the hub, Buchanan’s can make the spokes and wheel to make it roll.

    Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim
    www.Buchananspokes.net
    (626) 969-4655

    Outlaw Rodder

    Shocking! The Nose Knows

    There’s a few things that I need to get thoroughly mocked up on the Hot Rod to Hell Track T before I can blow it all apart and repaint. As I’ve mentioned in previous WCE editions the friction front shocks are fine for in-town cruising, but not exactly what I need for hitting potholes at 80mph on the Interstate. When you’re mocking something up you have to start somewhere. Here’s the steps I took to figure out what I need to do to add tubular shocks. Install an exhaust system that won’t boil the engine oil, and fry the brake master-cylinder. Speedway Motors T-Bucket catalog is the T-Bucket builder’s bible when it comes to locating all the trick goodies, both vintage style and the latest stuff.

    The bubbling black wrinkle paint on the orange Fram oil filter doesn’t show in this photo, but you can see how close the exhaust pipe runs past it.

    The last bolt at the rear of the exhaust manifold barely clears the steering box. The manifold baring against the steering box transmits heat, and engine vibration to the steering.

    Left bank: In plain view, but hard to reach describes the stock style Dorman ram horns. I’m glad I’m not putting them back on.

    Right bank: This isn’t the firing order marked on the plug wires, but in a quick pinch it works to ID the wires.

    The mockup process involves trying different parts to see what works best. These Speedway Motors stainless-steel ram horns look a thousand times better than stock, and get exhaust heat away the heads, plus allow more room to route plug wires.

    The downside to any ram horn type header for my application is the exhaust pipes run inside the frame. To add a great competition look to the car and to cure heat related problems I opted for Speedway Motors Shotgun pipes.

    The Speedway Shotgun pipes are made from stainless steel, and then highly polished. This is a key chain magnet used for testing steel. A magnet will not stick to stainless steel.

    Working alone can be a problem when a third hand is needed. I used the Speedway box to prop the Shotgun pipes and hold into place while I screwed the bolts in.

    The mockup stages establish if an idea will work, and how something is going to look. From this angle the Shotgun pipes look badass.

    Chrome shocks add a 50’s custom touch like the cars that used to show at the Oakland Roadster Show. The chrome shocks I’m using are from Speedway, and are made in the USA. Georgia to be exact.

     

    Cats are hard to train for use as a helper.

    The only way to avoid cutting the track nose severely for clearance was to convert the existing friction shocks into cantilever tubular shocks. Not a conventional way of doing things, but that’s how hot rods are.

    Sometimes new parts can be parted out to fabricate a new part. I used the Speedway shock studs as basis to make new shock uprights. The upright will run vertical alongside the radiator.

    The lower shock stud goes through the friction shock arm.

    I’ve mentioned it before, the Model A headlights are too big and heavy to be mounted into the fiberglass track nose.

    I’m hoping to use the Speedway shock/headlight bracket to mount the headlights.

    Here’s how the stock ’27 Model T headlights mount. Notice the connector bar the ’26 Model T lacked.

    I’m going to cut the headlight visor back to flush with the headlight grille. The headlight grille will be polished to match the rounded edges of the grille.

    From this angle the “look” of the car is really starting to shape up. I’ll be using Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black for the main color. Haven’t decided how aluminum to leave bare.

    After taxidermy cats are easier to train.

    I’ve tried different mounting positions for the headlights. They’re 44,000 candlepower, so I might want to keep them low out of oncoming traffic’s eyes. I can hardly wait to get this thing blacked-out, and going back together.

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  • West Coast Report — Kustom Kulture II by John Gilbert

    Kustom Kulture II gurgles up at the Huntington Beach Art Center — Stick Your Face In It!

    Hey, I have to tell you all time is hauling ass. Please translate that into time really flies. It seems like only yesterday I was at my Westminster, California custom paint shop laying flames on a set of fat bobs when a guy named Greg Escalante walked up, and told me about an art show he was putting together for the Laguna Beach Art Museum. That was in early 1993, and the exhibit was to be called Kustom Kulture. It wasn’t like Greg was going door-to-door pitching the show, he spotted me while picking up his board from Surfix my buddy Steve’s surfboard repair shop across the alley. Looking through my So Cal raised eyes Kustom Kulture is all about the really neat icons and idols that came along with hot-rods, chopped Harley-Davidsons, surfing, rock ‘n roll music, girl’s bicycle seats, drag racing, mini-bikes, go-karts, steel-wheeled Roller Derby skateboards, customized cars, guitars, and everything else us little dorks couldn’t keep stock if it was to save our souls. In ’93 when I talked with Greg, I told him about the late 60s and early 70s while I was in art school and the professors telling me custom painting wasn’t art. I’ve hated the square art world ever since. I was excited to hear about Kustom Kulture being set to appear at the Laguna Beach Art Museum. As it turned out Kustom Kulture was the museums most successful exhibit ever. Time warp to now, I don’t care if the square art world calls what gearheads do pulled pork with roasted maggots, its clear to see this stuff has carved out a niche in art history. Who knows maybe Janson will add a chapter. If there’s any chance you can make it to the Huntington Beach Art Center before Kustom Kulture II closes on August 24, 2013 you gotta do it. The admission is free, there is a donation box. I rolled in early Tuesday afternoon, and there was plenty of free parking inside the HBAC lot adjacent the building. This art has to be viewed live, these photographs just don’t do it justice.

    —   John Gilbert

    I guess it’s the bike painter in me. This surfboard by Damian Fulton was hands down my absolute favorite at KKII. In custom painter terms its got bitchin’ graphics under a heavy coat of slicked clear.

    I’m as unhip as the squares I often refer to, if not more. I wasn’t familiar with Damian’s work until I went to Kustom Kulture II. Google his name and you’ll find a ton of mouth watering subject matter he’s portrayed.

    As with custom paint, or maybe its all art, you really gotta shove your face into it and then move your head around to catch the light hitting the paint right.

    My guess is the board was based in silver as a lot of candies are, and then shot with a candy gold. I was digging the texture of the fiberglass mat under a perfectly smooth surface. Right from shaping the foam this thing is a work of art. FU square art instructor PhD types.

    I don’t know if you’d call it Wild Orchid, Lavender, or what, but that purplely color looked really good against the Ipana toothpaste green. For some reason it kinda reminds me of Craig Fraser’s bubbletop ’61 Buick. Google, Kal Koncepts.

    Years after Kustom Kulture I, and much in advance of Kustom Kulture III to be held in 2033, Damian painted this board in 2005. It’s a good thing I don’t have to review art for a living, I’d be toast. “Uh, its really neat to look at, and uh, I like it, its real shiny.”

    Richard Chang of the Orange County Register said, “The group show glorifies cars, surfing, motorcycles and skateboarding. And it occasionally objectifies women.” Carlos Danger wonders what’s happening to the naked dude seen here?

    From the pages of Surfer Murphy by Rick Griffin was a god-like pagan deity to all us Roller Derby, riding junior high-school kids. Not that it means anything except to add a little obscure history. I remember thinking Rick Griffin used to date Bob Ramirez’ sister back in 1968. I can’t even come close to covering how amazing Rick Griffin’s body of work is. I promise in a future West Coast Report, I’ll dig a lot deeper. Meanwhile Google Rick Griffin, it will blow your mind!

    The neat part about creating art versus custom painting some big greasy biker’s motorcycle is you can get runs and not get killed. Here on a 48x48-inch canvas Coop used acrylic enamel in spray cans to create this thing. Stuff your face in it, and its just a bunch of random dots.

    Step back farther and there’s a creepy skull.

    Way back further, and you can’t tell it’s a bunch of dots.

    The first time I saw a photo of this painting by Anthony Ausgang, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really care too much for it. Then seeing Salome  live at Kustom Kulture II completely changed my mind. Stuff your face in it and the effects Anthony uses to create asphalt are really neat. In fact judging by craftsmanship alone this guy is a pretty good painter. Go see it, I’m not kidding.

    The first time I saw a photo of this painting by Anthony Ausgang, I hate to admit it, but I didn’t really care too much for it. Then seeing Salome  live at Kustom Kulture II completely changed my mind. Stuff your face in it and the effects Anthony uses to create asphalt are really neat. In fact judging by craftsmanship alone this guy is a pretty good painter. Go see it, I’m not kidding.

    In particular I liked how Todd outlined the guys (if indeed they’re men) with red to look just like fire light hitting from in front. How’s that for a lame description… Eh, I’ve read worse.

    In particular I liked how Todd outlined the guys (if indeed they’re men) with red to look just like fire light hitting from in front. How’s that for a lame description… Eh, I’ve read worse.

    Rick Rietveld, Road Queen done in mixed media 2005. I’m burning out on writing captions. Please do a search on Rick’s work and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Better yet, buy something Rick’s work is for sale.

    I guess this is as good a point as any to mention the influence of Robert Williams work on (insert scholarly observations here).

    Stan Betz used to have an automotive paint supply store on Katella, in Anaheim. I’ve still got paint Stan mixed for me. Anyways, Stan had Von Dutch paint the signage and graphics on his delivery trucks. We used to see them all the time in town. Way smarter than the average bear, as the trucks sustained damage Stan would mount the hoods, fenders, or tailgates Von Dutch had painted up on the walls.

    Stunning detail from the pinstripping scene in Japan. Magic of Pinstripping & Kustom Kulture, 2013. This thing had so much intricate work it hurt my eyes trying to take it all in. The artist is Makoto Kobayashi.

    Pipa Garner, should have been in charge at GM when the company was trying downsize stuff. Here a Nissan truck could have been used to economize leftover inventory of mid-50s Cadillac Fleetwood sedans with a nose clip.

    Extreme Retro Steam powered 1769 French Cugnot: Here’s proof Pipa Garner was way ahead of the curve with the Resto-Mod movement, not to mention alternative propulsion.

    A diptych, two panels: Stick your face as tight as you can into Mr G’s (Minoru Goto) work. Incredible mind blowing precision like some kind of out of control robot commissioned by wealthy patrons to...

    Sorry, I’m really trying to write like the other reviews I read about Kustom Kulture II. Have you ever written captions, it’s a time consuming deal that will make your eyes bleed.

    Look at this thing, its hard to believe a human could paint something so perfect. Now go pay two mil for painting of a dot by a square artist with a famous brand name. Have I ever mentioned the square art world sucks?

    There’s a glass case full of knives Von Dutch made, plus these keen-o decals a kid could have stuck on his bike back in the day of Driftwood cow decals. Doll-up Stripes were for decals older guys with cars.

    I forgot to shoot the descriptive tag, so I’ll have to wing it. Dodo bird, a compilation of Robert Williams art transformed into the 3rd dimension by bronze sculptor Jeff Decker.

    One look at this pre-WWII illustration by Basil Wolverton, and I’d have to say Basil was responsible for inspiring all the creepy monster shirts that “Big” Daddy Roth used to crank out at the car shows… its just a guess.

    Walt Disney’s Donald Duck in Der Fuehrer’s Face from Jeff Decker’s collection.

    Humor in a Jugular Vein: Beautiful Girl of the Month Reads Mad. From the 11th cover of Mad magazine.

    I’ve still got the Kustom Kulture poster (flyer) Greg gave me in ’93. Alright at this point I guess I better give credit to the folks that did a really great of job of mounting Kustom Kulture II ( I don’t mean they screwed it, that’s art show jargon).

    Curated by C.R. Stecyk, Greg Escalante and Paul Frank. For more information www.huntingtonbeachartcenter.org

    El Forastero New Years Party in the Kansas City caves by David Mann for Roth Studios courtesy of Jeff Decker: I remember talking with David Mann about this painting while I was in KCMO writing the Juxtapoz cover story on David’s surreal art. In fact we drove Dave’s El Camino over to caves while we talking about the early days at Roth. David was an El Forastero  and it was fellow member Tiny that set it up with Roth to buy Hollywood Run for $85.00, and consequently Roth hired David to crank out ten more paintings as I remember it. Notice the names scribed on the wall, all these were Dave’s friends names. David had a habit of incorporating his friends names written on the wall in several of his paintings.

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  • West Coast Report The Sturgis Special: by John Gilbert

    The Road to Sturgis — And The Long Way Home

    This week’s West Coast Report is going to deviate slightly from its usual semi-unpredictable content. As I’m writing this the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is in full swing. I guess that’s what the square world calls it… my friends and I just say Sturgis. Today, August 5, 2013 is the first official day and the fun continues until August 11, 2014. No, I just made that up, the event only lasts for one week. Anyways, it got me to remembering about the last time I rode to Sturgis in 2010 for the 70th. The following images are extractions from actual coverage, they’re more like fragments of three Easyriders staff members journey to and home from Sturgis. I’m sorry I couldn’t show you guys the wilder side of the lifestyle. That un-coverage appeared in Biker, In the Wind, and Easyriders.

    This shot is from before I left for Sturgis in 2004. My plans were to ride with “Clean” Dean, and Beatnik on my rigid frame chopper like all the years before.

    I was going to make some old guy concessions like Mickey Mouse mounting a Heritage windshield onto my Apes. The OL convinced me the rigid bike was a bad idea, so I bought a 2005 Road Glide the day before we left.

    In 2004 I had five dogs, and then one-by one they all died off. In 2010 the only Lab-Pit left was Bear, and Ruby the red Pit Bull pup I inherited from a neighbor that passed away a few days earlier. Here’s Bear watching me leave out the front door for Sturgis. He looks kind of sad. Ruby slept on the couch and didn’t budge. That’s the next photo.

    In year’s past we’d make 800 miles the first night. Here’s the first night 2010 for the 70th .We made it a whopping almost 200-miles to the state line. The three of us were on the phone to the old ladies complaining about how hard life on the road can be. Then we went to the endless buffet and ate like pigs… it was so good.

    Beatnik is a rockabilly superstar in Sweden. Here he is on the stage with the Fryed Brothers at the Knuckle Saloon filling in for I think it was Harry Fryed had a broken arm.

     Sorry about the bad focus folks, my camera drank a little bit too much beer that night.

    Google the Fryed Bros. I Ride movie, Beatnik wrote the Sturgis Tango.

    Can anyone tell me what this is?

    More important than 60W oil. Notice the Senior Center sign? There was a prune shortage in Sturgis, and we heard those folks at the Senior Center were sitting on a large stash of fresh prunes.

    That’s Easyriders editor Dave Nichols judging bikes. We were all bike show judges, but it was like herding cats when the promoters asked for us to turn in the results.

    This is out at Michael Lichter’s annual bike show at the Buffalo Chip.

    Arlen Ness and the digger style of custom motorcycles are synonymous.

    The bike is a ’61 Harley-Davidson Sportster XLCH.

    The sign says Carl Olsen owns the World’s Oldest Knucklehead. Yea Carl.

    The first year for the Harley-Davidson Knucklehead was 1936. I think there’s only around 50 Knuckles known to exist. Ron Paugh owns 10.

    Not to sound artsy-fartsy, but this bike shows a direct lineage to the Streamline Moderne design movement expressing all the … Ah, just call it Art-Deco.

    The distinctive pushrod tubes on ’36 Knuckleheads were unique to 1936.

    Sticking out halfway at right is a Sears. They were sold by, you guessed it Sears & Roebuck from the Sears catalog.

    Once of out of Lichter’s exhibit and back outside we wandered around looking for food. We ate some overpriced greasy Gyros.

    With a World globe for a gas tank, I’d say this was one of the corniest theme bikes I’d ever seen… Except for the Corn Dog bike that is.

    There sure is a lot of long-haired greasy guys at the pool, we said as we looked at each other.

    Fellow Easyriders staff member Kit Maira rode a Victory test bike from California to Sturgis and back. He wrote the article, and I did the photography the story ran in V-Twin.

    Here’s my old ’05 Road Glide, I borrowed it back from Dean to make the 2010 ride. We did oil changes on the bikes before we returned to California. I can’t remember what brand of oil we used.

    Japanese tourists always take pictures of the trash cans at Disneyland. I thought as a tourist that lives 4 miles from Disneyland I should take a picture of a Sturgis trash can.

    I travel pretty light, as you can see my right saddle bag was consumed almost entirely by my camera gear. I still can’t remember what brand of oil we used.

    This is the motor court in Buffalo, Wyoming we stayed in the first night out of Sturgis. It’s also where I shot the breakdown tech featured in this edition. Please see below.

    Next stop the hot springs in Thermopolis, Wyoming. We rolled into town around mid-day. It didn’t look like a bad place to live.

    Things look pretty average, just another beautiful day in a really nice little Wyoming town.

    Then walk towards the hot springs and it gets more beautiful by the step. There was a bad sulfur smell, but I think that was Beatnik’s socks.

    Only an idiot would have climbed out on the rocks to take this picture. I darn near fell off climbing back down.

    Check out the colors.  I don’t ever use Photoshop, this is the real deal.

    The next night out we made it to Rock Springs, Wyoming. If you’re ever there and the place still exists, stay at the Springs the rooms are huge!

    We got a room back in the corner where we could park the bikes out of site. Did I mention Beatnik rides a BMW? I have to tell you, I was really impressed by that little 500cc single-cylinder BMW. Beatnik rode an Ironhead Sporty for years before.

    There’s “Clean” Dean in the master bedroom. The highest ranking member of our troupe, Dean was paying for meals and rooms for us two bums, Beatnik and I slept in the room seen in the background. Bad noises came from Dean’s room.

    Its always a good idea to photo-document the toilet in the motel room, before its put to the challenge. Somehow at every motel we arrived with a sanitary wrap across the toilet seat, and left with crime scene tape in its place. We don’t mean to be bad men, its our digestion.

     —John Gilbert

    Just look at the size of smaller bedroom at the Springs. There’s luxury homes in Tokyo that aren’t this big.

    We don’t get to see that many plain Jane shortbed 4x4s in So Cal, most of them are fully-loaded Extra, and Crew Cabs. Notice the ’91 Chevy has GM’s infamous paint adhesion problems. I think a good Eastwood pressure washer would go a long way in getting this thing ready for paint.

    Around the corner to the left there was a pretty good little topless bar with cheap beer at a fraction of California prices. We stayed around for about 20 jiggles.

    From Rock Springs, Wyoming we cut directly down toward Utah via the Flaming Gorge. It’s a long downhill decent and my borrowed back Road Glide got 73 miles-per-gallon, an all-time record for that bike.

    This is across from it. We made it to the Big Rock Candy Mountain that night. We heard a pack of riders talking in Elsinore, Utah about heading there, so we hopped on the bikes and hauled buns, before they got there.

    That’s the Big Rock Candy Mountain. The building at left is a little restaurant with real good food. At right next to the trendy Japanese import is the motel we stayed in.

    Here’s the sun hitting the Big Rock Candy Mountain the next morning.

    From Hershey, some Penn State girls laughed at us when we told them we were staying in the Chocolate Fudge Room, and declined our invitation to visit… Hey, no highway jokes.

    After another great meal, breakfast at the Big Rock Candy Mountain restaurant we headed for Las Vegas. Heavy winds through the Virgin Gorge and extreme heat into Nevada was the order of the day.

    Actually we didn’t leave the Big Rock Candy Mountain until after enjoying the Chocolate Fudge Room’s dual bathrooms one last time. When I get rich I’m going to have two bathrooms in my master bedroom with dual chrome toilet paper roll holders.

    I still call them Geezer Glides. I returned the Road Glide back to Dean after spending the day detailing. This made the 3rd time I’ve ridden the Glide to Sturgis. I think between me and Dean the Glide has been to Sturgis every year since ’04.

    I hate Tour Packs, and don’t like stuff tied to the bike. Everything I packed for Sturgis fit inside the bags. And going home the sexy Sturgis souvenir tank tops I bought for the OL.

    The ’05 R-Glide is stock except for Vance & Hines True Duals with a Fuel Pak installed in a tech feature done while I was at Hot Rod Bikes.

    Motorcycle Breakdown Tech

    The Bronson Rock Lives!

    On the road to Sturgis’s 70th anniversary, “Clean” Dean, Beatnik, and I observed the only thing that had changed since the old days was instead of Shovelheads, whiskey, and all-nighters it was now all about baggers, Metamucil, and hitting the sack early. Actually a lot of things have changed since the three of us first started riding Harley-Davidsons. Instead of having to tinker constantly with the mangy old Shovelhead, Knuckle, and Panhead rats we used to rely on for daily transportation we now count on new motorcycles to fill the bill. In 2004 just two days short of Dean, Beatnik and I leaving for Sturgis on our beat up old choppers I chickened out and bought a brand-new 2005 Road Glide. The scramble was on for Beatnik and Dean to come up with some new iron. Dean checked out a bagger from Harley’s press fleet, and Beatnik scored a dorky looking Kingpin test bike from the nice folks at Victory. Mechanically speaking the trip to Sturgis that year was uneventful, but that wasn’t to be for our 2010 pilgrimage. The trusty Road Glide I bought new in ’04 has been to Sturgis five times. I took it again in ’05 while I was still at Hot Rod Bikes magazine, and then after I sold it in ’07 to Dean he rode it numerous times more. For Sturgis 2010, I found myself the proud owner of three crusty old barhoppers, but with nothing worth trusting all the way to South Dakota. Aware of my plight Dean loaned me back the Road Glide, and then opted to ride his ‘99 Road King. Outside of riding through California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah in triple-digit heat everything was turning out pretty delightful. In Colorado things took a turn for the worst. The Colorado border brought heavy rain and with it an urge to stop for an early lunch. Dodging the storm we ate like pigs at the Wendy’s in Grand Junction, and then resumed our journey when it lightened up. When Dean kicked the Road King’s kickstand back it didn’t want to tuck up against the frame. The kickstand’s return spring had broken and Déjà vu, we had ourselves an old-fashioned breakdown. For a temporary fix Dean wrapped an extra bungee cord around the kickstand and then we headed off to the Harley-Davidson dealer on the other side of Grand Junction. This was not to be the last of Dean’s mechanical troubles, but that’s okay because it really added a nostalgic touch to our roadside sojourns.

    Leaving Sturgis we were headed for Yellowstone. But it was unusually cold, so we cut down toward Buffalo, where it was only freezing cold. In the morning we left for Rock Springs, Wyoming, 339 miles away. All of it incredibly beautiful riding.

    This was at the Rusty Cannon motel in Rifle, Colorado. Biker friendly it was a great place to stay. With over 70,000 hard miles on the clock breaking a kickstand spring didn’t tarnish Dean’s esteem of his trusty Road King named Elvis. Carrying a complete tool bag is a habit Dean never shook from the old days. When things went south it really paid off. Knowing the trick on how to change a kickstand spring the easy way came in handy too.

    Before hitting the road back to California, Dean and I had the oil changed with Lucas 50-weight synthetic motorcycle oil. When I owned the Road Glide I used Screamin’ Eagle Syn3, but I noticed its Twin Cam motor ran quieter with Lucas straight 50W oil in it. The real test would to pull the Twin-Cam motor down and see if the straight-weight oil scuffs the cylinder walls when cold… I don’t know.

    Dean’s 95-inch Road King got a whole lot noisier when the stock Harley exhaust system decided to break in half. This was somewhere in the middle of Wyoming, miles from the nearest town. At the side of the highway we figured out how to cannibalize the heat shield to remove and use as a temporary splint..

    This is a typical spot for a stock Harley exhaust system to break — Kit “not the devil” Maira says he’s broken nine of them in this spot during the course of riding his EVO bagger 290,000 miles. For an emergency fix all one has to do is remove the heat shield, take off the stock Harley hose clamps holding the shield and then attach (wrap) the hose clamps on the outside of the shield to use it as a splint.

    Once we got to Buffalo, Wyoming we went to the hardware store and bought this steel strap along with two longer hose clamps.

    With the exhaust pipe shoved back into position we placed the strap at the bottom of the pipe. At the bottom is the best place for strengthening against up and down movement.

    Next we used the two longer hose clamps to pull the pipes together at the Y section.

    Since we couldn’t find a muffler, or welding shop that was open this fix really worked like a champ. Dean never had another problem with his exhaust system all the way home from Wyoming to California — And it sure beat the snot out of some Harley shop telling us they could have a new pipe for us in a couple of days.

    Speedway Motors Remembers Joyce Smith, “Mrs. Speedway”

    I remember meeting Joyce Smith with Speedy Bill for first time at Americruise while covering for Custom Classic Trucks. That was in the Museum of American Speed, my associate editor Cody Wentz and I got a chance to talk with Bill and Joyce for several hours. It was truly amazing, both very gracious with wonderful stories. We were the last four people out of the building that night. She was a nice lady, real down home, like someone's favorite grandma. 

    John Gilbert

    The Speedway Motors family is mourning the loss of Joyce Smith, “Mrs. Speedway.” Joyce was co-founder of Speedway motors; wife of “Speedy” Bill Smith; mother to Carson, Craig, Clay and Jason Smith; and a great friend to an extended family of thousands of Speedway Motors employees, business associates and customers. Joyce died Sunday after a courageous 34-month battle with cancer.

    Joyce Smith played an integral role in the Speedway Motors business since its inception in 1952. Fresh out of college, Joyce loaned her new husband, “Speedy” Bill, the $300 he needed to start the Lincoln, Nebraska-based speed shop. She worked alongside him for the next 61 years, initially serving as Speedway’s bookkeeper, parts runner and counter girl, and always as a financial officer, corporate secretary and treasurer.

    Through the decades, Joyce provided crucial support to all facets of the Speedway Motors business. “Every step, every minute, every day, she’s been right there with me,” said “Speedy” Bill in his biography, Fast Company. “I could not have reached this point without her. Even if I had made it this far, it wouldn’t have been near as much fun without her. Joyce was the glue that held everything together.”

    Joyce’s six-decade involvement with Speedway Motors earned her a wonderful reputation throughout the racing world and performance industry. She likely attended more races, car shows and trade shows than anyone in America. Since their inception, she walked the fields of Hershey, the aisles of SEMA and PRI, the pits at Daytona, and the lanes of nearly every NSRA Street Rod Nationals. Her tremendous impact on the automotive community was recognized in 2005 when she was honored with the Goodguys Woman of the Year Award. As the proud co-founder of the Museum of American Speed, Joyce was able to share her profound love of racing and rodding with future generations.

    The Smith family is extremely grateful for the thousands of friends and fans Joyce has in the racing and street rodding communities, but has respectfully requested privacy during this emotional time. Funeral services will be private. A public celebration of life is scheduled for late September.

    In lieu of flowers, the Smith family asks that friends share their memories of Joyce through a memorial at the Museum of American Speed:

    Joyce Smith Memorial
    Museum of American Speed
    599 Oak Creek Dr.
    Lincoln, NE 68528
    ForJoyce@MuseumofAmericanSpeed.com
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  • West Coast Report — 20th Edition by John Gilbert

    More Photo Tips — Corky Coker’s New TV Show

    Carrying over from last week’s West Coast Report’s 19th Edition, here’s a few extra photography tips. It’s a great sensation to look at something and know one has developed a trained eye to recognize it was done right. In this case, done right as in with an artistic touch that’s pleasing to one’s eye. OK that’s kind of a vague statement and perhaps even a little weird, so I’ll dial it in a little tighter and tell ya’ll what got me to thinking about this. I just had a friend call and tell me the Chadly coupe is in the new Coker tire catalog. The news got me to Google’n Chadly coupe to see what would pop up. There it was, a series of images including a photo my friend Marla took of me with the coupe only a few miles away from where my Florida to California journey began. It’s an image of me checking the ’54 Chrysler Hemi’s oil. Look closely at how Marla composed the photo, its just absolutely as spot on as it can be. The gestalt is a textbook example of perfect. At left the visor on my hat, and at right the visor on the chopped coupe guide the eye directly towards the dipstick with the 6-duece carbed Hemi in the background. There’s no sequence of visual hierarchy, everything is picked up by the human eye in the first gulp.

     John Gilbert

    As a rule of thumb I look for a light background to contrast with a dark car, and vice versa.

    Get in the habit of checking out the subject vehicle from several different angles. It doesn’t hurt to bring a ladder along to get a bird’s eye view. This particular shot required laying flat on my stomach (which isn’t flat) and bracing the camera with my elbows to act as a tri-pod.

    Anytime that I’m shooting a vertical in the back of my mind I’m thinking about it as a possible magazine cover. This is the most common angle for a cover, a front ¾ view taken standing straight up. Up on a ladder capturing the hood and roof works even better for covers.

    Next is the rear ¾ view taken standing straight up from a distance with a Zoom lens.

    Notice the red inside the carb stacks stand out. Some things pop in the photos, but they didn’t while I was taking this photo. One often discovers things like this later, and that’s a good thing when it happens.

    Notice a lesser degree of red exposed in the stack takes a few seconds longer for the eye to pick up.

    Here’s an interior shot with half direct sunlight combined with shade.    Forget about Photoshop; a simple trick, the lighter background outside automatically gets blown out into almost pure white by the camera’s light meter.

    The mounting location for this AZ. license plate was a temporary measure.

    The side of this 1941 Army Air Force hanger looked like it would be a great background, but appears way too busy once the photos were viewed. Or at least that’s my opinion. I guess differing opinions create different styles.

    For 99-percent of the interior shots I’ve done for car features the goal has always been to have even light. That said, for some reason I love this shot.

    I metered the light for the dashboard, and ignored the rest. I think this is kind of a cool effect too, it sure puts the focus on the dashboard.

    Like I said, you guys that live in the middle of nowhere are lucky when comes to finding good backgrounds. Although this background wouldn’t work as well for a high-tech street rod.

    Here’s without a flash.

    Here’s without a flash.

    And with a flash. Notice how it made the reflective sign pop? Not what I intended. Especially since it didn’t bring anymore detail. There’s different ways to throw light including a 4x8 sheet of foam core, or a flash pot nearby, but out of the frame.

    Shop Tour: ARP Bolts

    Nuts for California

    As a part of reporting the West Coast gearhead scene it’s always a pleasure to spotlight a California company that’s hasn’t perished, or left the state because of its hostile environment towards manufacturing.

    Automotive Racing Products is based out of Ventura, California with extensive manufacturing facilities in Santa Paula. ARP originated in 1968 as a cottage industry (as in home garage)  producing sublet orders rolling threads for the aerospace industry. Today ARP is housed in a complex of buildings consuming well over 200,000-square feet of prime industrial real estate. Every phase of manufacturing is handled in-house. In addition to custom design and build orders, ARP maintains a product line of supplying thousands of part numbers to high-performance OEM manufacturers as well as NASCAR, NHRA, and Formula 1 applications. Beyond providing a much cleaner look in comparison to stock garden variety nuts and bolts, thanks to manufacturing standards that exceed aerospace specs ARP fasteners make it a lot easier to produce immaculate show quality work. Instead of oddball hardware that might or might not be concentric with threads that are sloppy loose, or fit too tight, ARP bolts add precision, along with a touch of class to any car, truck, or motorcycle project. Automotive Racing Products can be reached at (800) 826-3045, or online at www.arp-bolts.com

    I spent the day touring ARP’s Ventura, and Santa Paula, locations, taking my lunch hour at Hozy’s Grill, a company owned restaurant ARP built onto the end of one its Santa Paula buildings. If you’re ever in Santa Paula, eat at Hozy’s Grill the food is absolutely incredible!

    Huge coils of premium grade 8740 chrome steel direct from a Reading, Pennsylvania steel mill. There are four grades of steel, commercial is the first followed by aircraft quality. ARP uses only SDF, and CHQ the top two grades which are twice as expensive as commercial, or aircraft grade.

    Cold forging: This is one of ARP’s numerous cold heading machines. Horizontally it forms (presses) the steel coil perfectly flat, and then cuts it to a desired length.  ARP bolts, and studs begin the manufacturing process as either 12-foot lengths of high grade bar stock, or a 200-foot coil of USA made steel.

    Hot forging: Here a two-story tall hot heading machine induction heats, and forms ARP fasteners under many tons of pressure.

    Museum quality: ARP prefers to restore older heavy based US made machinery to exacting specs including a custom coat of ARP Green paint rather than buy new lighter constructed machinery imported from overseas.

    Heat-treating, shot-peening, thread rolling, and much more: In some cases it would take over 50 individual photos to capture every step ARP takes to produce its fasteners.

    Thread rolling to MIL-S-8879A military specs: Done after heat-treating its more costly because of wear and tear on expensive dies, but ARP bolt threads are 10 times tougher than bolts that are threaded prior to heat-treating.

    Centerless grinding guarantees the outside diameter of ARP studs are perfectly concentric. In this area of manufacturing alone up to ten different steps are taken to ensure ARP studs, and bolts are produced with zero-defects.

    Some as tall as a fully grown banana tree: Lots of Starrett measuring tools kept on hand at every machine, and placed at individual stations: One can’t walk 15 feet inside an ARP manufacturing facility without encountering some type of measuring device used to ensure quality control.

    ARP maintains extreme cleanliness from start to finish: Believe it, or not there’s a specially constructed automatic pan washer that keeps clean pans ready for every phase of an ARP fastener’s evolution. Note the pans are custom made to satisfy ARP specifications.

    Manual labor intensive: There’s hardly one step of production where a single ARP fastener isn’t held by a human hand. Each and every one of these ARP stainless steel bolts were checked individually for quality before being placed in a thread protecting sleeve by hand.

    One-hundred percent in-house means ARP does it all including specialized metal finishing: An entire building houses a massive ecologically friendly series of tanks ARP uses to apply a trick black oxide finish to chrome moly fasteners. For polishing stainless steel products to a high luster three separate giant tumblers spin horizontally with an increasingly finer grit of media towards the final stage.

    ARP works hand in hand developing specialized hardware with many of the world’s best engine manufacturers including Ford, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz, and of course a brand us Harley-Davidson riders all know, S&S.

    Here’s a hot tech tip from the pros: ARP Ultra-Torque fastener assembly lubricant virtually eliminates preload scatter. This means applying it a fastener need only be torqued once to get within 5 percent of ideal preload… Not to mention you’ll only have to access hard to reach bolts once.

    This Vibe Tech tumbler is loaded with special abrasive pellets and through a vibratory process polishes bolts and fasteners to a show-quality sheen, like you’ve never sheen before.

    I didn’t write notes, but I know this guy isn’t centerless grinding bolts. Anyways that’s one heck of a row of machines isn’t it?

    Stacks of full pans waiting. The young lady sitting down at left one-by-one inspects each and every bolt in a continuous chain of quality control inspections ARP performs.

    Did I mention ARP prefers to restore vintage US made machinery back to perfect operational condition as opposed to buying lighter-duty new machines?

    I don’t know what this machine is doing, but it sure makes one heck of a thud every time it revolves. Maybe its called a big giant thudding revolver. Eh, maybe not.

    Rustin’ Gold

    Backroad Gold, Corky Coker’s New TV Show

    Along with a pack of the Performance Automotive Group’s editors, and publishers, I met with Corky Coker yesterday at a roundtable held at Source Interlink Media’s tech center in Irvine, California. I learned about a new TV show Corky will be hosting on the Travel Channel… and yes, the chopped coupe is related to this story.

    Last August while blasting around Chattanooga searching for Corky’s place I found out extended blasts of full-throttle causes Holly 94 carbs to gurgle up gasoline. Note the Vicegrips pinching the main fuel line.

    This is Coker’s main offices; kind of hard to find when you’ve got a 7 ½ -inch chop and can’t see Bo Diddley. I drove around for 20-minutes before Mike Goodman flagged me in.

    Coker really knows how to make a person feel welcome. At Corky’s invitation I was there to see his museum, and do a tire test story for Street Rodder. That was in 2012 last August. Sometimes I’m a little slow, I figured out the Coker roundtable is an annual event.

    The Source Interlink Media offices are right around the corner from my Irvine office. No Michelin didn’t prototype air-bags for motorcyclists.

    And that’s a good thing how’d you the Feds to mandate bikers wore something like this?

    This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

    This was in Corky’s office. While I was there Corky bought one of the cars that’s going to be on his new show.

    Here’s Corky, Butch, and Tommy Lee Byrd out in the shop with the Excelsior radials we replaced my bias-ply Coker Firestones with. When choosing tires you have to decide what you want to use them for.

    Here’s the coupe when it first went up into the air. Bet you didn’t think this car would have disc brakes, huh?

    See the green color showing on the Power Gen? In photographer terms that’s called apex, you get it when you shoot into the sun.

    Here’s Corky right before he recommended installing trim rings on the coupe.

    Coker just opened up a 100,000-square foot manufacturing plant for wheels in the City of Industry, California. Here Corky is showing me how they custom manufacture wheels on a special one-off basis in Chattanooga, TN.

    Here’s a look-see at the wheel making machinery in Chattanooga.

    Look way back to the left and you’ll notice a white cab sticking up. That’s the ’53 Ford F-100 Corky will driving on his new show Backroad Gold.

    I think the Ford shoebox Corky is lifting the hood on will be featured on the show. The truck snout at right is the ’53 Ford F-100.

    Yahoo, Corky said it was time to eat lunch, and I was ready to chow down.

    I got to drive Corky’s Buick back from the Mexican restaurant we ate at. It was me Corky, and the entire Honest Charley’s Speedshop crew that went there. Big fun, what a great bunch of guys. The beans didn’t hit until I was in Nashville. Atlanta, Georgia, I hear there’s a wanted poster for me at a truck stop… You’d think they would have had DOT rated restrooms.

    Here’s the Travel Channel’s boilerplate for announcing the show is new for next season. "Backroad Gold" follows antique car expert Corky Coker as he scours the highways, back roads and small towns of America, wheeling and dealing for hidden riches such as antique cars, motorcycles, trucks, gas pumps and road signs. This is Coker's life-long passion and his business - he is constantly on the road hunting for the next big find. Together with his expert team of restorers - which includes his father, son-in-law and daughter - Coker buys, restores, and sells all finds from his shop, Honest Charley's Speedshop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This old Harley-Davidson Panhead is one of the bikes that’ll be featured.

    It’s nice to have friends that care. Corky insisted his guys gave the coupe a once over before I got back on the road for California.

    I didn’t have any car trouble outside of the gurgling Holley 94s, but notice the bad focus? I think the camera bouncing around in the coupe was starting to take a toll on my lens, it was starting to sound like a maracas.

    Here’s Hal giving the front end a once over.

    I was real impressed with how well the Champion oil maintained oil-pressure for the entire rest of the trip. What was dumped out must have been made from fish oil.

    I’d gone over the car before leaving Florida, but that was on jackstands. It was good to actually see it up in the air.

    Tommy Lee Byrd took this group shot. Corky told me to sit on the front tire. Some guy on Coker’s Facebook page said tell that old coot to stand up. If I knew where he lived I would have driven to his house and left a magic corn log on his front lawn.

    After leaving Chattanooga, I made it to Cadiz, Kentucky, that night. Here’s a perfect example of the camera’s Auto White Balance not quite working as it should. No messing with white balance, I was dog tired I blew these shots off and went to bed.

    Hot-rodders are Hell raisers? It was an obvious case of profiling, the motel owner gave me a room far away from everyone else… Maybe it was for my own good.

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  • West Coast Report 19th Edition by John Gilbert

    Neato Burrito - DIY Photograph Your Ride Like a Pro

    In last week’s West Coast Report 18 I expanded a little on how to get your ride into a magazine, and promised a follow-up on how to photograph your ride like a pro. Oh, and by expanded I didn’t mean I was experiencing a bad reaction to cabbage burritos. Although I have to warn you guys never request extra cucumber slices on a cabbage and anchovies burrito… it’ll create the mother of all gut bombs. Oh, and never ever forget the “always carry an extra pair of shorts and Levis” rule.

    ‘Nuff said, onto the photography tips. First thing be glad the days of film are gone. Not that film was bad because it wasn’t, but because the digital age has revolutionized photography in the same way Eastwood welders have enabled DIY guys to weld like the professionals. Whether its point and weld, welders, or point and shoot cameras, the quality that can be obtained with modern technology is amazing. The new technologies take an absolute minimum of understanding to produce pro results. Settings that once required the operator’s hands-on knowledge are now handled by the equipment. Light settings, F-stops, white balance, ISO (film speed). The thing to accomplish with analog (film) shooting at night or in low light. That’s pretty much history with digital.

    Here’s the most important step to photographing your ride. You need to look up into the sky and see where the sun is at. You want it at your back with the light hitting exactly where you want it. For example if you’re a taking a front ¾ view which most times is the lead shot for a magazine feature, you want the entire grille lit, and the entire side of the vehicle lit as well. This isn’t always possible if you’re working with a sketchy background. You guys out in the middle of nowhere are lucky when it comes to finding a good background. We’ll get to picking out the right background.

    The time of day is important too. As a magazine editor covering an event, plus trying to shoot as many car, truck, or bike features I rarely had the luxury of perfect light. There are times of the day when you flat shouldn’t shoot (take photos). The absolute worst time of the day is 12 ‘O-clock noon on a sunny day. The sun is directly above making the worst shadows imaginable, and the light is way too hot. “Hot” is a photography term meaning bright.

    Now if the day isn’t sunny with a complete cloud cover the overcast skies can work to your benefit. That’s in varying degrees though. For example if there’s sunlight breaking through the clouds there’ll be light and shadows to contend with. The front can be perfectly lit, and the shadows can overtake the rear.

    Here’s examples of what sunlight and shadows can do to ruin a photograph.

    Using the camera’s built-in flash can help to some degree to fill in the shadows.

    A good accessory add-on flash can handle shadows even better, blasting stronger light. Sometimes these shadows can’t be avoided if its not your car, and you can’t move to a better spot.

    If the color of this truck was lighter the sunlight wouldn’t be too hot. This was taken at 9:30AM and already much too bright out for a dark color.

    Digital camera focused on the Donuts sign at 5:00AM. The meter reads the sign and ignores the rest.

    Refocusing on the car without a flash, the camera does a much better job overall. But notice the sign is now a dingy white because of using the camera’s auto-white balance. This can be correct with White Balance settings in the camera.

    This was taken only a few minutes later after adjusting the camera settings. I bumped the F-stops up which is real easy on a digital. You don’t even have to know what it means. Twist the dial up or down and watch the screen afterwards to see how it effected your photo. Bumping up increases light, and bumping down from Zero decreases light. The white balance is still on Auto.

    Here’s a second later with the F-stops bumped another notch up.

    Here’s finding a location. In Orange County, CA. good clean backgrounds (locations) are hard to find.

    Keep an eye out for ugly distractions especially like other cars in the background. Dark fresh asphalt is like finding gold. In fact here’s a hard fast rule; never have other vehicles visible in the background, period!

    Same location only I moved to the right to lose the red car and white truck in the background.

    Here’s a vertical like I’d shoot for a cover. Notice the sky and tree make for a more interesting photo. There was a naked girl next to the car, but I’m not allowed to show that kind of stuff.

    This was a cover for Biker magazine… uh, sans the scantily clad girl. This was inside a bar in Costa Mesa, CA. with a minimum amount of light. There’s one spotlight to the left of camera. Move a spotlight as you would want the sun to hit the main subject.

    Again only one spotlight. Notice the lightest colored parts (Pan motor) soak up light. I used three spots to get the desired lighting. Neutral balance is the best type of electric light. You can adjust White Balance to compensate.

    This photo is acceptable and was published, but it could have used a little light thrown under the carb on the pushrods, etc.

    Here’s a what a good flash can do for blasting out shadows. Try using a using a fill-flash on every photo you take, and then see if you can’t notice an improvement in your photography.

    Multi-colored floors with tons of reflection are a real killer. Not to mention the composition of this photo is bad.

    Back to shooting in the sun using natural light. Notice the difference where you stand and how the light hits affects the photo? Shooting from the left exposes a major shadow down the right inside of the bed.

    Moving to the right hides the shadow and focuses on the better lit left side of the bed.

    The best interior photography is done out of direct sunlight. This shot of the cab was taken in direct light without a flash. Notice where it’s out of the sun on the driver side its dark.

    Same exact conditions a second later only with a flash. The sunlight had been subdued and now the driver side door and floor are clearly visible.

    What’s wrong with this picture? Trucks approaching in the background, the grille is improperly lit, big ugly shadow all around underneath, and worst of all there’s a giant pile of horse manure mixed in with pig poop visible… pig poop, I tell you.

    Alright same exact Syracuse, NY. location, but now the truck has been moved into the sun where the grille, and driver side are perfectly lit. And no, that isn’t a pile of giraffe turds behind the truck.

    Liverpool, NY. Slight cloud cover allows shooting the passenger side with sunlight coming from my right shoulder illuminating the grille, and hood. Notice the truck’s color.

    Here the Klondike Gold ’59 has been repositioned to the perfect ¾ angle with the sun coming over my shoulder. Also note how the direct sunlight illuminates the paint bringing out its true Klondike Gold goodness.

    Perfect light. Proper angle into the sun. Look at the right side and across the tailgate

    Bad light. improper angle into the sun. Inside the cab is dark and worse yet, the tailgate is completely in the dark.

    A former Street Rodder Road Tour car. This photo is a tossup whether one likes how the overhead lights accentuate the curvature of the hood.

    Shooting into the sun with electric light from behind.

    This floor is just too busy for a feature shot, but sure is cool. Can you imagine taping out 8,000 square-feet worth of checkers?

    Outlaw Rodder

    ROAD & TRACK Almost Goes To Hell

    Road & Track magazine isn’t long gone as in kaput, out of print, or finis, but rather gone from its longtime Costa Mesa, California home. Here’s some shots of the old The R&T offices overlooking Newport Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.

    Boy, those must have been the days checking a Jag XKE, or some kind of V-12 Colombo powered Ferrari out of the press fleet and blasting down PCH trying to find something about the car they could complain about in print.

    I drive past the old R&T offices every time I do work for Newport Classic Cars just a little ways down Monrovia street. Strangely enough I was driving the Hot Rod To Hell when I jumped out and blasted these photos of R&T’s old digs. OK, so that doesn’t sound all that strange, but get this Road & Track’s new digs are only 19.4 miles from Hell, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Speaking of the Hot Rod to Hell, the polished stainless steel Shotgun style headers arrived from Speedway Motors, so I have some update shots of the exhaust mocked up, plus the front shock brackets and chrome shocks from Speedway that I’m using to convert from friction to tubular shocks. So as you can see, I’ll be going to Hell in style.

    Tech

    Battery Tray Survival Tips

    The number one area for any classic vehicle to have rust troubles brewing is the battery tray. Be it truck, or car the odds are real good lifting out the battery will reveal anything from rust starting to big rust holes that have already occurred. Sandblasting, paint, welding… tying a vehicle up for a week, or so: A guy could get carried away, and start tearing things apart, but for a quick 15-minute fix that will last a long time, and keep a daily-driver on the job here’s the fast track to make it happen.

    I grabbed a box of baking soda, and sprinkled it onto the battery tray. Then hosed tap water onto the tray and scrubbed the bubbling baking soda briskly as it dissolved the battery acid. Battery acid is the main cause of damage.

    Using compressed-air I dried the battery tray, and the surrounding wheel well. Eastwood Rust Converter worked great for sealing the area after stripping the battery acid.

    Rust Converter goes right over rust and provides a polymeric coating that’s ready to paint without sanding.

    Afterward I placed a battery mat over the dried black rust converter, and installed the battery. Did I mention the job took only 15-minutes to do?

    — John Gilbert

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