West Coast Eastwood

    • West Coast Report — 16th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Jay Leno’s New Gearhead Show — Who’s The Weasels

      The automobile industry finally did it, today’s new cars are as reliable as a brand-new toaster, and almost as stylish. Unfortunately for gearheads passionate for restoring and preservation, the new cars are also unserviceable and disposable as a new toaster. For most people that’s OK because as technologically advanced as our society has become, we’re living in an era where the general public has no concept of what tire pressure is, let alone oil pressure. Think I’m kidding, try pretending you’re Jay Leno, and get out on the street and interview a few folks. Come to think about it, wouldn’t it be cool if instead of asking college students how many states there are in the Union, or who’s the Vice President, Jay asked them car questions?

       — John Gilbert

      Outlaw Rodder

      Hot Rod to Hell — Lumen-escent

      The little red roadster seen here sitting on Magazine Row barely visible between the palm trees is what I’ll be driving. Right at sunrise, come August 10, 2013 it’ll be Headlights, camera, action, for the Hot Rod to Hell. I’ll be leaving from the Donut Derelicts in Huntington Beach. It will be just one of many days where the track T is going to be running day and night with its headlights on. Kind of like motorcycle safety one might say. I’m not all that anxious to change the headlights that are on the car. The lights came off of Candy’s Uncle’s car (Google Hot Rod Girl Street Rodder) and that lends sentimentality plus Riz (Jim Rizzo Classic Trucks) did a real nice job of upgrading the bulbs to Halogen and installed trick internal T-sigs. But, this configuration is problematic.

      Historical fact confirms headlights that aren’t supported properly will tear things up, and ultimately fall off.  A case in point, take a look at the pedestal mount style headlights on a 1926 Ford Model T, and then look at a 1927 Ford Model T. Notice the addition of a support bar that runs across from one headlight to the other. The reason the support bar was added is because the ’26 headlights shook until they ripped the pedestal free from the fenders leaving big tears in the steel fenders. It’s not uncommon to find even the most stock ’26 Model T running a ’27 model headlight bar. I’m not a Model T expert by any means, so maybe later ‘26s came factory equipped. The only reason I’m familiar with any of this was I owned a mint condition ’26 T roadster with the pedestal style headlights. Evil me, all that stuff got tossed when I turned it into a hot-rod.

      Years before I was ever a motor journalist, and freelanced for Street Rodder, I used to pick up a copy off the newsstand to see what the latest trends and products were. Fast-forward to now, interestingly I’ve learned Street Rodder is still the best place to discover what the latest and greatest products and trends are.

      In my search for a pair of headlights that can be mounted directly to the upper shock mounts I checked out Headwinds website, looking for a pair of lights I’d spotted in the Headwinds ad in Street Rodder. After searching all over Headwinds website I discovered the grille-faced lights I wanted were a new release not yet posted. One might say the score is, Print 1, Internet 0.

      Joel Felty, the owner of Headwinds is a friend, and fellow Weasel. For those unfamiliar with the Weasels, we’re like the Hamsters, except very few of us have any money like the Hamsters do. To learn more about either group please Google Hamsters MC, or Weasels MC. Which is curious since neither group is actually an MC. Sorry, as usual I wandered off on a tangent.

      It’s true, California is perhaps the absolute worst environment to conduct any kind of business that manufactures a product, but it is not totally void of manufacturers. In recent years I’ve toured numerous aftermarket manufacturers that amazingly are still located in California. Since Eastwood customers are of the hands-on variety, and Headwinds relies heavily on metal-shaping to manufacture its products in-house I thought you guys might enjoy a pictorial tour of Headwinds, Southern California manufacturing plant. Here’s Joel next to the massive billet stock used to carve out genuine billet headlight buckets and rings.

      From raw lengths of billet aluminum the next step is to lop-off individual blanks. This is not how cheese logs are made.

      Next the billet ring or headlight bucket is chucked into a CNC lathe.

      Spun aluminum headlight buckets start out as a 4x8-foot sheet of aluminum alloy that is cut into squares.

      The squares are clamped in and rotated in this cutter. Note that a DIY guy can use a fly-cutter to cut out a circle. The only drawback is there will be a small hole in the center from indexing the fly-cutter. Nothing a TIG weld can’t fix.

      The circular aluminum blank is chucked into a CNC metal spinning lathe.

      The first pass leaves the coarsest marks

      Gobs of lubricant squirt out in the final stages, and the end results are amazingly smooth.

      Fresh out of the metal spinner, and ready for QC (quality control) before moving on to the next steps.

      Here’s Joel milling a boss into the headlight bucket to accept a billet headlight base mount.

      Headwinds polishing shop. Every single phase of manufacturing is done in-house in California, with the exception of chrome-plating. And believe it, or not the chrome shop Headwinds entrusts it work to is in California.

      Note on the unpolished portion no tooling marks are present. Several different grade polishing wheels, and different degrees of compound coarseness are used in steps to bring aluminum and stainless steel parts to a show-quality brightness.

      Hard to tell if these parts have been chromed, or polished huh?

      A US quarter illustrates the miniscule size of LED turn-signal housings.

      You’ll never believe how long it takes for me to write these captions. Sometimes I have take a break, and eat a cabbage burrito.

      A multi-access CNC mill ball mills intricate details.

      These Model A headlights are mounted directly into the fiberglass Track T nose. Tell me if you don’t think that grille will go good with Headwinds headlight grilles.

      Here’s Joel with the Headwinds crew out in their Monrovia, California shop. Here’s a link to check Headwinds out for yourself www.Headwinds.com   My eyes are bleeding I must take a nap now.

        Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • West Coast Report — 15th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Don’t Mickey Mouse it — Do The Job Right

      Buenos Dias, or as they say it in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin — Buenos Nachos. Loosely translated into English the expression means, Good Day with a crispy little cheese covered tortilla chip thrown in.

      This week’s West Coast Report isn’t about cheese or tortilla chips, but I will delve into the different aspects of doing the job right, versus doing it cheesy. Wisconsin has the best rep for cheese, but California in addition to Mickey Mouse and Disneyland, is known for its cheese, wine, fruit, and nuts… Almonds, pistachios, and TV star religious zealots in particular. Here’s how the front of my garage looked before I started. Organized with shelves for storage, but at the sacrifice of floor space. What’s worse was my tools were stored in different areas of the garage… some places real inconvenient to get to.

      What got me on the Do The Job Right kick ignited while I was getting my garage ready to begin work on the Hot Rod to Hell, Track T. The T is going to be featured in an upcoming road trip story in Street Rodder. It became obvious before I was going to be able to do a proper job on the T, my garage and tools needed to as organized as possible. I just kept investing more time, and days into tearing the place apart when I found myself tempted to Mickey Mouse some things to be able to move on. Then I spotted the Eastwood Do The Job Right banner spread out across my rollaway top, and had second thoughts. The spirit of Eastwood’s slogan means the crew at Eastwood have everything needed for pros and DIY guys alike to obtain the best results possible, but it was another interpretation that I recognized.

      Beyond a job well done, I adopted Do The Job Right as a battle cry to persist until I had my working environment as perfect as I could make it. Not to stop until I was absolutely satisfied with the results. This meant ripping out all of the old wood storage shelves and making room to group all of my tools in one spot. It took an entire day to rip the shelves out, and find a new place to store everything. The next job, sorting out tools and stocking each rollaway was real time intensive, before I knew it I’d spent over two weeks. Although I’m glad I did it because it was worth every minute being able to have everything where I can find it. Not having to search I’ve already started to make up for lost time, and now I don’t feel so uptight every time I need to hunt for a specific tool.

      John Gilbert

      Green With Idiocy

      California Cool Paints Initiative Wasn’t Cool

      Gee, how time flies. It was back in 2009 the California Air Resources Board came up with this beauty. I’m guessing the idea must have proven so moronic, and embarrassing to the other state agencies that CARB is no longer allowed to use California in it’s name. These days the agency is simply known as ARB. The acronym ARB; it kind of sounds like a viral moisture wart that would flourish in between one’s butt cheeks doesn’t it?

      A good way to describe life in the 21st century is it's like being an actor in a poorly written episode of the Twilight Zone that's televised on a continuous loop that can't be turned off. Let's temporarily forget about the Wall Street crooks that get paid multi-million-dollar retention bonuses to stick around in case they're needed to bankrupt their companies again, and move on to issues that are closer to the hearts of automobile enthusiasts. I'm talking about the contrived energy crisis, and all of the related baloney that goes with it. If there really were such a thing as impending doom from greenhouse gases the solution offered up by the powers that be would run on a more urgent timeline.

      Think about it, instead of pouring millions of tax dollars into subsidizing hydrogen-powered vehicles that might prove out in 20 years how about an effective change that could be put into action before the sun sets tonight? Zeroing in on a specific example brings me to the state of California's "cool paints" initiative introduced on March 12, 2009 to ban black paintjobs on automobiles and trucks. The trouble stems from the California Air Resources Board. CARB wants to mandate the phase-in of non-existent heat-reflecting paints on vehicles starting with the 2012 model year, with all colors meeting a 20 percent reflectivity requirement by the 2016 model year. You read it right, the technology doesn’t exist for automotive use.

      The premise behind the black paint ban is to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions and improve fuel economy by keeping vehicles cooler on hot days and decrease the amount of time California drivers turn their air conditioning on. The folks at CARB are operating on the conclusion that air conditioning robs engine power and hurts fuel economy. The CARB brain trust concurs if vehicles have reflective paint, interiors will be cooler and drivers will use their air conditioning less, the A/C compressors won't have to work as hard and this means less gasoline will be consumed.

      Oh goody-goody, and all of this by 2016, that's wonderful, but if CARB really felt there was a problem there's an instant solution available. The folks at CARB could wake up tomorrow morning knowing they made the world a better place to live if they yanked the fuse out of their state-owned automobile's air conditioner. Imagine the instantaneous beneficial effects realized by disarming California's fleet of what must amount to thousands of vehicles burdened with air conditioning. Them CARB fellers better not let governor Jerry Brown hear my suggestion because he’s the kind of guy that will make them do it — Imagine that, bureaucrats forced to take their own medicine.

      The undeniable proof California’s green movement is a bunch of hooey is the existence of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in California. With over 35 million people in California there has to be millions of leaf blowers burning hundreds of thousands of gallons of gasoline on a daily basis. There are some counties in California where leaf blowers are banned, but it's because of noise pollution and has nothing to do with gasoline consumption or what effects leaf blowers might have on air quality. If CARB really believed there was a problem I'm sure they would come up with a replacement technology that hasn't been invented yet. Something like a big stick with whiskers on the end that could be used to sweep dirt into a flat thing with a handle on it. I think I’ll patent the concept, and give it a name like broom and dustpan. Acting as a responsible global citizen the gardener after using the broom and dustpan could then throw the leaves and garbage into the trash instead of blowing it into a neighbor's front yard. In my neighborhood, the gardeners like to show up on different days and then take turns blasting dirt and rocks onto my trucks. Thankfully water conservation has never been an issue in California, so I can flood the dirt off with water anytime I so desire. Besides who cares if their vehicle’s paint job is getting chipped and scratched.

      Well, I'm getting towards the end where I need to wrap things up, but before I do I'd like to turn the folks at CARB onto a neat product I saw advertised on early morning television. It's called the Window Weasel and it's a solar-powered device that attaches to a car window which is slightly opened and circulates fresh air from the outside and keeps the car's interior much cooler while parked. The benefits advertised were more about creature comfort than energy conservation, but it offers a realistic solution to the problem. It's too bad the CARB folks don't get up real early like me and watch television, they would have known about this thing. Only time will tell who is right, me with my new K-Tel Window Weasel or CARB with their ban on black paint jobs.

      —John Gilbert

      Outlaw Rodder

      Raising the Hot Rod to Hell

      I’m on a real tight deadline, and there’s a lot of things that will need to be done to this ’27 Ford before it’s ready to hit the long road to Hell, Michigan. I want to tear the T right down to the bare frame right now, but it would be a big mistake not to set some things up before that happens. The two most important upgrades that need to be done is to rework the front suspension from friction shocks to modern telescopic shock absorbers, and redesign the interior so I can fit into it comfortably. Ordinarily for an in-town  “cruise hopper” the friction shocks, and cramped seating would be bearable, but not for the long haul. It looks like I can get a head start on the front suspension by sourcing a universal shock mount kit and chrome Bilstein shocks from Speedway Motors in Lincoln, Nebraska. The word universal means I’m going to have to do a little fabrication, and welding, but that’s not a biggie. The T’s driving position has to be stretched as far front to rear as possible. Not only stretched, but the toe board (floorboard) needs to be widened, so my left foot won’t be trapped under the brake pedal, and the gas pedal can be depressed without twisting my foot sideways.

      Beauty is only skin deep. The front end, in fact the entire car is a perfect candidate for the Eastwood treatment. This car was constructed with top-quality parts, but five years of sitting outside has sent it’s Fordly good looks out to lunch.

      I'll be using Eastwood's new 2K Aero-Spray paints to bring the T right back to show-quality, magazine ready condition. A quick cleanse with Eastwood PRE painting prep, and then Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black will do the rest.

      The rusty bits (spindles, rearend, etc.) will be treated to a protective polymeric coating using Eastwood Rust Converter, followed directly with 2K Aero-Spray Chassis Black. I’ll show how when the time comes to get this thing in color.

      The beauty of Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray paints is they offer all the durability of a professional quality gun-sprayed urethane finish combined with the pure convenience only a spray can, can offer. Additionally the 2K nozzle just like a professional spray gun can be adjusted to a vertical, or horizontal fan.

      This is as far torn down as the car needs to be for now. The engine and trans need to be in place to configure a new exhaust system, and to determine how much can be cut out of the toe board.

      Trying to handle disassembly without being able to see is a guaranteed way to miss a screw, or hidden bolt. Not having to mess with an electrical cord is great. I’m really starting to appreciate the Eastwood 30 SMD LED Worklight/Flashlight.

      I like this light, so much that I’m going to fabricate a bracket to utilize it as a map light, or remove to use as a trouble light. It comes standard with a 110-volt charger, plus a 12-volt charger that plugs into a cigarette lighter socket.

      There’s no way I’m going to drive the T 6,000 miles with only this much foot room. My new Nikes look just like a pair of ugly feet huh?

      Instead of marking with a Sharpie, I prefer to use bright colored masking tape to draw my cut lines. The tape is much easier to see, plus makes straighter lines.

      For sheer power this cordless Makita drill kicks ass over my pneumatic die-grinder. Using a worn-out, meaning smaller cut-off disc fits better into tight spots. The lack of an electrical cord, or air hose helps to move around easier.

      Fiberglass is tougher (stronger) than it looks. I had to make sure the cuts went all the way through before the area to be removed would drop out.

      Checkout how much room there is between the bell-housing  and the floor. My next step is to make cardboard patterns that will turn into a new section of fiberglass floor… and you guessed it, the materials are coming from Eastwood.

      I’ve had that engine hoist since 1979, its amazing how long tools can last if you take care of them. I wish the same was true for my teeth.

      For a lightweight car the cheapie wheel dollies work OK. For now the Hot Rod to Hell has been slid over to the side of my garage to make room for an upcoming tech feature on the ’79 Chevy C10 seen here in the background. That said, the T is on a tight deadline, so I’m going to tear back into it ASAP. The next tech to appear here will be on how to make templates and turn them into a fiberglass part.


        Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • West Coast Report 14th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Jay Leno - Stripping to Striping

      Text & Photos by John Gilbert

      Without a doubt I think the most famous and beloved gearhead in the world is Jay Leno. Sure, all the big time comedians have exstensive car collections, but Jay is the only guy that mingles amongst the car crazy masses and is frequently spotted driving his collection. The first time I ever saw Jay Leno in public was at a Christmastime gearhead get-together at a friend of a friend’s. That was Dean Hensley’s house in Pasadena. The year must have been around 1988, I was checking out a veteran era motorcycle amongst many displayed in the terraced hillside backyard when “Goofy”, my girlfriend at the time said “hey that guy looks just like Jay Leno.” I looked over at the In ‘N Out trailer that was handing out free hamburgers, and sure enough the guy reaching for a “double-double” at the front of the line was Jay Leno.

      The next year at the Christmas party Goofy and I were at Dean’s front gate talking with my friends Greg, and Cal “Buzz” Naylor when Jay walked up and greeted us. Jay Leno doesn’t know me from Adam, but he’s friends with Greg and Cal. Hanging out there provided me a unique opportunity to stand in Jay’s shoes for a few minutes and experience what he has to put up with. By put up I mean almost every guy that greeted Jay seemed compelled to make some sort of attempt at being a stand-up comedian as he passed by. An endearing trait, Jay is always congenial to gearhead fans, no matter how many dumb jokes they tell him.

      About 5 years later I was riding in a pack of six loud chopped Harley-Davidsons on the Ventura Freeway heading north to meet “Clean” Dean, David Mann, and a bunch of other ER employees when a louder, faster, noise approached from behind and passed us. The heavy rumbling was coming from a hot-rod Hispano-Suiza sort of contraption with Jay Leno behind the wheel. Jay was wearing a blue ball cap, and he looked over and nodded with a smile as he passed. Amongst our pack was John Morgan, then editor of Hot Bike. I’m mentioning this to illustrate it’s always been a friendly competition between the titles. At least for me, I’ve learned magazine editors are just hired guns. I started at Easyriders and then moved on to Hot Rod Bikes.

      Sorry, I get off on a tangent sometimes. Anyways the explanation for these photos is these are from the time my fellow idiopathic idiot friend that owns a 1912 Buick, and I drove on the freeway to get to a horseless carriage event. Its an event where you can practically set your watch that Jay Leno will be showing up. At past occasions I’ve asked Jay serious questions about some of the cars he’s driven, but I’ve always gone out of my way not to bug him by taking his photo, or practice my comedy act. I did bring my trusty Canon to the event to shoot cars, and bikes that were there, but no paparazzi stuff.

      Egad! the next thing I know Dave is charging towards Jay trying to beat some old ladies there that are getting ready to gang up on Jay with cameras to get their photos taken. So WTF, at Dave’s request I slid in with my camera and took these photos of him standing next to Jay. And yes, of course we just had to tell Jay all about driving the 1912 Buick on the freeway. I’m not sure why, but for some reason Jay looked at us like we were both nuts.

       John Gilbert

      Tooling Around

      Stripping Discs - Text & Photos by John Gilbert

      I’ve stripped more than a few cars down to the bare metal in my time and its really not my favorite thing to do. I think I’d rather kiss a provoked possum on the lips than have to deal with the discomfort stripping paint brings. That said, there is more than one way to skin a car, and Stripping Discs are one of the best ways I’ve found.

      At Chopit Kustom in Stanton, CA. The underside of this ’59 El Camino was media blasted first. Next, Eastwood Stripping discs were used to smooth the area, remove leftover bits of undercoat, and remove light rust acquired from sitting while at a previous location.


      Pack of Five. Stripping Disc produces a 320-grit finish. The combination of Eastwood #31086 4.5-inch Strip Discs mounted on a 4-inch “peanut grinder” makes for a great way to get into hard to reach areas and handle the tight spots. Backing plate included with Stripping Disc System #31112.

      This Merc is yet another major customization under way at Chopit Kustom. Take note of the 320-grit brushed finish the Eastwood 7-inch Stripping Disc produces. 7 inch Cleaning / Stripping Disc System #31114.


      Don’t overlook peeling the sticker from the backing plate. This allows the entire surface to be exposed providing maximum grip.


      It’s a good idea to make sure the stripping disc is accurately centered on the backing plate. Line it up, and push straight down. If the Stripping Disc is mounted off-center it will be out of balance and produce a noticeable vibration.

      From this angle there’s still a light coating of rust on the driver side surface of the hood. The 7-inch Cleaning Disc leaves an 80-grit finish and was used to remove old primer from the driver side fender.


      Here’s Gary Chopit showing famed Honda motorcycle racer Tim “Model T” Ford the next bubbletop car scheduled to leave the shop. Note the right fender reveals a brushed 320-grit finish produced by the 7-inch Stripping Disc.


      Well, there you have it friends please stay tuned for an upcoming adventure showing the next step after stripping; epoxy and etching primer.

      Tech Tricks

      Styles for Stripping School - Text & Photos by John Gilbert

      Have brush, will travel has always looked like a good way to make a living to me. If I had it to do over again back in 1969 when I first started teaching myself to do custom paint I would have started to pinstripe as well. I’ve messed with trying through the years, and have actually billed people for my stripes, but there’s always been better out there.

      There’s one thing I know for sure, and that’s when I started custom painting there weren’t any custom painters out there that would share information or try to help an FNG out. It was a pretty secretive trade.

      These days it’s a whole lot better for someone that wants to learn. Take pinstriping for example, the following story is about Jeff Styles a friend of mine that teaches folks how to stripe — Oh, and everything you need from striping enamel to brushes, to Auto Air Colors is available right here at Eastwood.

      Every kid has fanciful dreams of what they’d like to do when they grow up one day, but that’s not usually how things work out. The average person’s early life career ambitions often disappear as soon as they’ve graduated high school, and find their aspirations sidelined by more conventional pursuits. For Jeff Styles of Mesa, Arizona, that was not to become the case. In the 70s he was a school kid that spent as much of his time drawing flames on his homework as he did studying it. His dad a fireman by profession had a knack for pinstripping, and lettering as a hobby. Unlike Jeff’s teachers the elder Styles possessed a greater appreciation of the kid’s natural customizing talent and encouraged him to pick up a striping brush.  In no time Jeff was skillful enough to pinstripe his bicycle, along with everything else he thought in need of embellishment.  On the way home after school one day Jeff dropped by the house of Butch Tucker, a striper more famously known as “Butch’r. Once tutored by Von Dutch, Butch’r recognized in Jeff what Dutch saw in him, and took the kid under his wing. In the process the two developed a great friendship that continues to this day.

      By the early 80s Jeff had moved to Southern California, and was making a good living pulling stripes down the sides of cars at the local dealerships. As Jeff developed a distinctive style with a bigger bag of special effects the caliber of the vehicles he striped escalated accordingly. Beyond cars, trucks, and motorcycles Jeff built up a backlog of automobilia, airplanes, and watercraft to customize. That was 30 years ago, and to this day Jeff has only had to rely on his abilities as a pinstriper, and custom painter to make a living. Not one to hold back any tricks of the trade Jeff takes time out to teach pinstriping to anyone that would like to learn, or stripers looking to step up their game. He travels to Las Vegas for Airbrush Action’s annual Getaway making it a point to add new techniques to his seminars each year. For example in addition to teaching the basic steps, the class included how to simulate wood grain. Checkout Jeff Styles’ website www.socalpinstriper.com for a current list of events where he’s teaching class.

      An industry staple since 1948, 1Shot sign painters’ lettering enamel remains present on Styles’ shelf, but recent changes in California regulations are beginning to wreak havoc. Mineral spirits the most popular reducer used for 1Shot is now banned in California due to it being a petroleum-based solvent that emits VOCs. The aqueous replacement known as odorless mineral spirits doesn’t work so hot leaving users asking, “what is this crap?”

      As good luck would have it we were able to sit in while Jeff was laying stripes on his recently acquired pure black’09 Street Glide. Unlike custom graphics that are buried under a clear topcoat, the beauty of pinstriping is it lies on top of the surface. This means if there’s a change of heart, or the desire to redesign the bike’s appearance it’s a much simpler process. Starting with the saddlebags Jeff used ¼-inch 3M brand masking tape to lay straight guidelines. The guidelines were traced with a Stabilo pencil. Next the tape was pulled off leaving faint white straight lines that wiped off easily after the artwork had dried completely.

      A matter of branding, Jeff decided to tattoo flames on his right hand to stand out in magazine articles where often the only trace of a performing pinstriper is a photo of his hands. White Stabilo guidelines are barely visible. Notice Jeff forms a bridge using both hands to steady the brush, and pull the line rearward.

      The red stripes are painted in a standard 1Shot color right from the chart. Jeff custom mixed a light beige to make the artwork pop. The white specs are talc used to ensure Jeff’s hands glide along the surface as the stripes are pulled.

      Jeff striped the entire bike all at once in just a couple of hours. Applying the second color shortly after applying the first color is where things can get risky. Smearing the fresh beige, and having to wash it off with thinner means the red will have to be washed off as well. That means its back to square one. Jeff advised the way novice stripers can get around this problem is to let the first color dry completely overnight, and then go for the second color the next day.

      Sign blanks, or panels are pre-finished 12x18-inch .040 gauge aluminum coated with black, or white baked enamel. Whether for practice, or completed art, panels work great. Jeff painted this one with an abstract background, featuring a cartoon of Lady Luck perched atop red, white, and black pinstriping.

      A variation of a theme Jeff created another abstract background only this time genuine 22-karat yellow gold is combined with black 1Shot to complete the painting’s foreground.

      License plate restoration, and customizing for show is one of Styles’ specialties. The plates come to Jeff half beat to death all dented with faded paint, and leave looking like they just left Tehachapi in a DMV envelope. Check out the 8G-prefixed plate that started out white with red California script, and ended up black with traditional block letters.

      Simulating the appearance of real wood on steel parts is called wood graining and the process using oil, and solvent based paints has been around a long time. Until recently Jeff has been using the tried and true oil based paint systems to replicate wood grain, but once again California laws are beginning to affect product availability. Jeff, realizing he’d either have to become an outlaw, and smuggle illegal paints into the state. The paint used here is water-based from Auto-Air Colors.

        Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • West Coast Report 13th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Happy Father’s Day — Fellow Mothers of Invention


      The third time’s a charm. The following Father’s Day tribute originally appeared in an editorial during my editor-in-chief stint at Custom Classic Trucks. Some years later, last Mother’s Day actually, I did a rewrite as an entry into a contest Bobby Likis at www.CarClinicNetwork.com was running. If you get on Bobby’s website it’s not the contest for $500.00 worth of free gasoline, but the one where the winner scores a radar detector, it’s called Car Story With Dad. Probably more fun than watching chrome rust; Here’s the third version, if you have a lot of time on your hands why not Google all three versions, and see if you can detect the changes. The winner will receive an autographed booklet on FIF (Feline Idiopathic Flatulence). *  This is not a real contest, so please disregard reading the contest rules that do not appear anywhere — Not even in my weirdest dreams, and trust me brothers I have a lot of weird dreams. I think my nightmares might be caused by the cabbage burritos I like to chase down with a big bag of Fiery Cheetos dipped in organic asparagus juice. Ah, but that’s yet another story.

      Test Drives With The Old Man

      When I was a kid growing up in Southern California during the 50s and 60s I really enjoyed going to the gas station with my dad in our ’58 Chevy pickup with a Corvette mill. Pop, always seemed to know where there was a gas war going on, and that would be the station that we headed off to. Sometimes it was the Hudson station across the street from Reynolds Buick in Covina with Premium at 29.9 cents, or maybe the Martin station in West Covina had the best prices around. My dad would often tell my mom we had to go get some Purple Martin in the pickup, and then maybe we might go look at some new cars. Looking at new cars with the old man was always fun, because that usually meant we were going to take Detroit’s latest and greatest offering out for a test drive.

      I think if I had to narrow it down to my all-time favorite test drive story with the old man it would have to have been when the '66 Oldsmobile Toronado first came out. After checking out the new '66 Rivieras at Reynolds Buick we jumped back in the '58 and drove over to Mandy Williams Oldsmobile in West Covina. Back then there didn't seem to be any kind of real procedure when it came to test drives, sometimes the salesman went with you, and sometimes he didn't. In the case of the new Toronado for whatever reason the salesman was insistent that he tag along.

      I was bummed-out the salesman came with us because it meant I had to ride in the back seat like a 13-year-old kid, instead of being cool and riding shotgun up front. I don't think my dad really cared one-way or the other if the salesman was there because he had a mission to accomplish. Not in the sense of flying a brand-new Boeing bomber underneath a bridge during World War II, but it was a mission nevertheless. The ultimate goal was to see how fast the new Olds Toronado could go up Kellogg Hill. Our family car, a dual-glasspacked '61 Buick Invicta could hit a 100 up Kellogg and that was always the benchmark that my dad held other cars up to. I could tell right from the moment when we first pulled onto the east-bound San Bernardino Freeway that the big 'ol gold Oldsmobile with the chrome wheels was going to make a good run. Everything was perfect, traffic was light and we got a good clear lane with nothing up ahead. The Toro hit a hundred and just kept climbing, but then suddenly at 105 mph the salesman who had started to clench his fists at 80 was now tilting his head way back and screaming like a girl.

      Not because the poor salesman was having a tearful bout with extreme incontinence, but because the Olds had peaked the top of Kellogg the old man backed off the gas. Back at the Olds dealership the salesman was still quite shaken, and the last thing on his mind was selling my dad a new car.

      After serving in WWII, and Korea, my dad was first a plumber, and then a steamfitter by trade. In June of 1967 at 200-feet high into the air a drunken crane operator at the Texaco oil refinery in Long Beach, California, snagged a 30-foot long by 3-foot diameter cement-steel pipe my dad was guiding into place. The snagged pipe slingshot into my dad and broke his spine, feet, and every rib leaving him a high-level, almost quadriplegic, paraplegic.

      From his very first car a hot-rodded Model T Ford, automobiles were always a source of freedom for my dad. After he lost the ability to walk being able to throw his wheelchair behind the seat and drive off to anywhere he wanted was the ultimate freedom.

      In 1968 my dad bought a brand-new Oldsmobile 98 2-door hardtop, and I installed hand-controls so he could drive it. The Olds was optioned with a Highway Patrol suspension package, standard 455-inch engine, and 2.56:1 rearend gears. The old man said on Montana highways the car could top the speedo at 127mph, maybe more. The next Olds, he bought was a 1973 Toronado. It was a good car that he traded in for a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado. The Cadillac was a real pile of junk, and made him miss the Toro. There were a few more new cars, but the last car my dad owned was a black 1994 Z-28 Camaro. The magazines reported a ’94 Z-28 could top 156mph. My dad said he got his Z-28 up to 150 before he ran out of clear highway.

      After six months of confinement to a hospital bed with constant suffering my dad passed away on January 27, 2003 from complications related directly to paraplegia.

      I wonder what memories future generations of fathers and sons will share— Video games I imagine. A fierce battle with opposing space alien armies, or perhaps a leg-wetting drive behind the joy stick of a virtual Z-28 Camaro.

      Outlaw Rodder

      Miranda Lambert is Real Pretty

      Here’s a quick update on the Hot Rod to Hell build. As you can see these are the early shots of Jim Rizzo and I loading up Candy’s Car for what I hope is its one and only trailer ride.

      Of course come to think about it I might have to load it up on a trailer to handle some of the many things that will need to be done in a very short time. I set the track T’s completion date as June 29, 2013, but that date’s coming way too fast. The drop dead deadline is August 10. I’m leaving right from the Donut Derelicts early Saturday morning, and then heading to Tucson for the first night’s stay.

      Oh, and the name Candy’s Car comes from the car’s buildup in Street Rodder by Candy, Riz’s wife. There must be half a dozen tech features archived on Street Rodder’s web. A Google search Street Rodder Hot Rod Girl will bring up a raft full of tech features on the car. I’ll probably be referring to Candy’s tech features when I start to put the car back together.

      The first thing I’m going to do after I fry up a big pot of coffee at around five AM tomorrow morning is fire off a product order to Eastwood. It won’t be in the next West Coast Eastwood, but the one after WCE 15 I’ll run some progress shots. Here’s how its looking under the hood right now. Yeah, I know there’s no hood. I’m looking forward to painting the body Rat Rod Black, the frame with 2K Ceramic Chassis Black, and the engine with Chevy orange Ceramic Engine Paint.

      Any girl that sings about burning rubber in a song like Miranda does in Famous in a Small Town just has to be about as cool as they come… Oh, and did I mention she’s real pretty?

        Click Here To Read Full Post...
    • West Coast Report 12th Edition: By John Gilbert

      Missing Digits

      There’s nothing quite like a forced two-week hiatus from work to inspire a safety related West Coast Report. No, nothing really bad happened, I just managed to re-injure my back. It was in 2008 that I twisted my back holding a camera in one hand while yanking a heavy front spindle / brake assembly up from the floor with the other. One minute I was in an advertiser’s R&D shop shooting a tech, and in the next my boss was driving my bent carcass to the doctor’s office.

      Fast forward to two weeks ago: It’s amazing how distracting pain can be. Not only was I unable to move about freely I couldn’t stream words together good enough to write anything worth reading, hence West Coast Eastwood’s two-week absence from posting fresh content.

      Industrial accidents happen in a split-second. I divide them into two categories. The first kind are the accidents that catch one completely by surprise and leave you floating in the air looking down at your lifeless corpse. The second type are of the “I knew that was going to happen” variety. Think of celebrity welder Jesse James, and his recently departed pinkie finger. I’ll bet any amount of money Mr. James thought to himself he shouldn’t be placing his fingers quite so close to the blade when suddenly he had new content for his Twitter account. Maybe Jesse, doesn’t Tweet, I’m just using that as an example. On a personal level I’ve got my scars. Almost every injured eyeball, near-severed appendage, or deafened eardrum could have been avoided if I had just taken an extra minute to don safety gear, or use equipment properly. Have you ever noticed how the gearhead types on TV that don’t wear safety equipment seem to be prone to premature hair loss, pocked complexions, stress-induced constipation, and marital grief, just to mention a few. It’s ironic how an initial quest for vanity can translate into a lifetime of enduring a freakish appearance. For more information on treating Idiopathic Constipation please visit www.Metamucil.com tell them the “Metamucil Kid” sent you.

      So, the next time before you fire up that trusty welder, or climb underneath your car and start grinding on something, please take a moment to ponder the tragic consequences of an industrial accident. The bloodier you imagine it the better, because that makes for a great mnemonic devise.

      One last thing, in choosing Eastwood you’ve come to the right place for the finest products available in safety equipment and gear. So think about your favorite body part, and then order something that will help you to keep it.

      One more last thing… I wonder what would bring more money on eBay. Jesse James’ severed pinkie, or Alfred E. Newman’s brain pickled in a sandwich bag?

      —   John Gilbert


      Druid Hills By John Gilbert

      “It’s a nice patio for entertaining” Yeah, even better for storing a ’72 Ford pickup I’d say. I really love HGTV, but I’ve got to stop watching it so much. It’s not the moronic idiots that think a fake stainless steel panel plastered on the front of a Korean made refrigerator means it’s really made out of stainless steel that’s starting to bug me. Nope, it’s the network’s total disregard towards the needs, and sensitivities of gearheads. How many times do they show the garage on one of those house hunter shows… not very many. Maybe if the poor guy got a chance to mention he wanted a decent garage in between the wife’s militant demands for a walk-in closet, island in the kitchen, plus whatever non-essentials today’s modern woman figures she can’t live without.

      If I had a walk-in closet that’s where I’d store one of my motorcycles. Wait, I do have a walk-in closet. The only problem is the turn to get the Harley into it is too tight. I’ll bet if I knocked out the wall between the entryway closet and the master bedroom, I could ride the hog straight in.

      Druid Hills, ain’t that a cool name? It’s a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia.— And that brings up it was world renown custom painter Pete Santini that restored the paint on Ed “Big Daddy” Roth’s Druid Princess. Can you imagine being married to a Druid Princess in search of a new bigger, better, home on HGTV? That’s my definition of Hell.


      Atwater F-1s

      By John Gilbert

      It’s been a few years since I took these photos, so this pair of old F-1 Ford pickups might be gone. As I remember it there might have been a feisty canine involved so, if you’re greeted by a big ugly dog don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh yeah, the location was somewhere in the old downtown section of Atwater, California. For those of you that are European residents fly Trans-Love Airlines it will be worth it… Thanks, Eric.

      SHOW & GO

      The C10 King’s Annual Reunion

      By John Gilbert

      While we’re in the Atwater, California area we might as well drop in on my friend Rene Martinez’s annual C10 Club family reunion. These are a few misc. shots, but you’ll get the idea. And don’t feel left out if you’re driving another brand because everyone is welcome.

      Here’s copy from an article I ran in Street Trucks, or it might have been in Custom Classic Trucks. I remember now it was in CCT. Some of the photos were shot by my good friend Bob Ryder, former Truckin’ senior technical editor for 16 years, and now he’s the current editor of Drive!

      Without a doubt one of the most unique truck shows around is the annual C10 Get-Together hosted by the C10 Club based in California’s Central Valley. It’s the great trucks, beautiful weather, and lip-smackin’ Bar-B-Q all wrapped up in a family reunion vibe that makes it one of my favorite events. As in years past the fun took place at Rene “The C10 King” Martinez’s gigantic homestead in Atwater, California. For 2010, the 5th Annual fell on October 2nd and I asked my friend Bob Ryder from Truckin’ magazine if he’d like to ride along. Because of the heat wave California was experiencing that week we chickened out from driving one of our old trucks, and took my black ‘05 GMC with ice-cold air. A lot braver than Bob, and I were some fellow forum members from www.67-72chevytrucks.com that drove up from the So Cal area in their customized classics.

      In all we counted about 65 trucks present. The bulk of vehicles there were ’67-72 models with the following board members accounted for. Barcobear, Coletrickle, SuburbanAce, RattlecanJoe, JohnOro, JesseH13, AceX, Jerry Jones, Ext56, Newtz67, El Jay, Evans67, CheyenneSuperKing, SactoJim, 67chevy1series, magwakeenercew2jh, Sixty8Lou, PipsC10, Kev’s Classics, and of course the C/10King. Rene asked me to make sure I mentioned that anyone who would like to attend next year’s C10 Get-Together knows they are welcome. Also a big thanks goes out to Classic Performance Products (CPP) for donating a power brake booster complete with a master cylinder that was awarded to a lucky raffle winner. A not so lucky raffle winner got to sit next to “Stinky” Chavez after he consumed one-dozen pickled eggs supplied by Sulphur Specialties of Gustine, California. So there you have it, I want the folks I met at the Mid-West All Truck Nationals, Carlisle, and Texas Heat Wave among other shows across country to know you’re invited, so we expect to see you all there at the C10 Get-Together next year!

        Click Here To Read Full Post...