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West Coast Eastwood

  • West Coast Report 18th Edition: By John Gilbert

    Here’s How to Get Your Car into a Magazine

    So, how do you get your car into a magazine… not only cars, but trucks and motorcycles as well? Many years before I was a magazine editor this was a question that I really wanted to know the answer to. As I mentioned in last week’s West Coast Report I’m really starting to enjoy listening to the Podcast interviews Kevin Tetz conducts on Shop Talk. In Episode Seven, Kevin speaks with freelance automotive photographer Robert McGaffin. I knew I’d heard Robert’s name before, in fact I was thinking maybe I’d written the text for some of the truck features he’s shot for Custom Classic Trucks. The fastest way to confirm such a notion was to Google Custom Classic Trucks combined with my name, and Robert’s. Sure enough there it was the truck feature I had titled Wurlitzer Deluxe with the photo credits attributed to Robert McGaffin. If you’d like to peruse the article, Google Custom Classic Trucks – Wurlitzer Deluxe and you can get a look at Robert’s photography firsthand … I have to warn you, the guy is pretty good!

    Listening to Robert explain how a person goes about getting their vehicle into a magazine reminded me of the different methods I’ve used for the various car, truck, and motorcycle magazines I’ve edited in the past. In particular how I went about choosing a certain vehicle to go cover. “It went cover” that’s editor cool talk for getting the cover. Uh, I’m starting to get a little ahead of myself. We’ll dig deeper into making the cover at a later date.

    Bull’s eye! Robert McGaffin hit the target right on the nose, the surest way to get into a magazine is to enter your vehicle into a custom car show and have it discovered. Note the phrase custom car show is an all encompassing term that covers cars, trucks, motorcycles, and even model cars, it all happens at the custom car show. That said, there’s several ways to get into a magazine. Now, interestingly you don’t have to enter the biggest car show, or annual event there is to get your car or truck discovered. In fact some of the largest events in the nation have hit and miss reputations amongst editor types for delivering the goods. By delivering the goods I mean a good selection of high quality vehicles that haven’t appeared in a magazine before, and have the right look. I’ve been to large events with 10,000-plus really good cars, and trucks, but none fresh enough to qualify for a feature.

    Investing all the money in the world can’t make a vehicle magazine acceptable if the thing is just a dorky looking hodge-podge of parts bolted to an awkward stance. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a lot of bucks into your ride because the first thing a magazine editor looks at is if the vehicle has the right look as in profile, centerline, or stance for his magazine. Around five years ago there was a rusty old slammed F-1 Ford on the cover of Classic Trucks that got there because the thing was just as cool as an old truck could be. Confirming then editor, Rob Fortier made the right choice, the newsstand sell-through numbers came back real high, as in a lot of people bought that issue. I forget what I put on the cover of Custom Classic Trucks, that month. I hope it wasn’t the issue where I put my Barn Find ’56 Ford Big-Window on the cover… It’s coming back to me now, it wasn’t.

    Another good way to get your ride into a magazine, especially if you live in the middle of nowhere far away from any show or event is to mail, or email the editor (magazine of your choice) photographs with a written description of the vehicle’s specifications. Specifications are what’s under the hood, the transmission behind it, and the differential pushing it all. Describe the engine, is it stock, or a really intriguing swap from another year, or even a different make? Next you’ll need to describe the bodywork. Is it custom, restored, did it have a ton of rust that you had to repair before you were even close to painting it?  The list just goes on from there, suspension, brakes, interior, you get the picture, describe everything about your vehicle.

    Address the images and description of your vehicle to Reader’s Rides. Don’t be a dummy, look in the magazine and see what your magazine of choice calls its readers’ rides. it’s a red flag that you don’t read the magazine if you don’t know the title of its reader’s rides department. I think while I was editing Custom Classic Trucks I had a real creative title, it was called Reader’s Rides. The address information for where to send your submission will be on the bottom of the Reader’s Ride page in small print.

    Speaking from personal experience I always kept close track of the submissions readers were sending in. You’d never know, a so-called pro photos speculating a possible feature would miss the target by a mile with an inappropriate vehicle, or bad photography. In contrast a reader just hoping to get into Reader’s Rides, turned out to own something worthy of a full feature, sometimes even a cover. A good example were the photos Al Ming of Spokane, Washington sent in of his ’65 Chevy C10. And I should mention that the photography quality for Reader’s Rides doesn’t have to be up magazine standards like a vehicle feature, or tech story does.

    Back to Al Ming’s green ’65 Chevy. The first time I saw Al’s ’65 he’d sent a packet full of photographs to Reader’s Rides with a brief description. There was no doubt the truck was worthy of a Reader’s Ride, so I put it into the next issue. Less than a year later I made plans to pack my dog Bongo into a brand-new 2006 Harley-Davidson Ford F-150, and haul buns for the weekend up to Spokane, for the Good-Guys show. Before I left I gave Al a call and asked how his truck was doing. In the time since we last spoke he’d plucked out its 283 and dropped in a 383 stroker along with further brake and suspension upgrades. In addition Al had a local custom painter lay some graphics on the truck.

    Towards the end of the day I lined up 15 trucks from the show and then we all caravanned to a scenic old industrial area and I photographed every one of them. Thanks to the time of year it was, I had sunlight until 8:45PM. Al’s truck was among them, and not only ended up in the magazine as a feature, it was selected (by me) to be one of the 12 trucks featured in the Brother’s truck calendar the next year.

    Well, since this is a blog, and not a monthly magazine I’ll be back next week. In the meantime if anyone has any questions, please post it in the comments, and I’ll give you an answer. Also on my list of things to come for future editions of West Coast Eastwood, I’m going to post tech tips on how to photograph your vehicle. That will be on how to use a real camera, not a cigarette lighter, cell phone, or toaster that takes pictures. These tips will work for any camera ranging in price from one-hundred bucks up to very expensive. Just like Eastwood’s welders that utilize the latest technology to make it a lot easier for the DIY guy to use, the same is true for today’s digital cameras. So, after just a minimum amount of guidance my money says a lot of you will be able to produce some fair decent photography in no time at all.

    — John Gilbert

    Outlaw Rodder

    One Day Closer to Hell… Michigan, that is

    The Hot Rod to Hell is starting to shape up. Not as fast as I’d like it to, but it’s coming along. Last Saturday at the donut shop one of the Derelicts asked me if I was going to make my August 10 deadline to leave for Michigan. That deadline is coming awful fast. I told him I know I’m going to Hell, but I’m not sure when. I just love these Hell jokes, it reminds me of the Summer of ’62 when I was an eight year-old kid living on a farm outside of Stockbridge, Michigan. Back then Hell was a bad word, so anytime I could work “can we go to Hell” into a conversation, I would. Even the local newspapers couldn’t resist temptation. Every time it snowed the night before the morning headlines always read “Hell Freezes Over.”

    Checkout the aluminum hood Bob Marianich made for the car. Bob has an extremely interesting life’s story, he started out metal shaping for the Alexander Brothers, moved on to his own shop in the mid-60s building Ferrari, and Porsche bodies from scratch. Placing his wife and children’s security above his desire to create from his own shop, Bob ditched it all and went to a 9-5 job working as an industrial designer in Detroit.

    The years working, and designing for Detroit are far behind Marianch now, and he’s picked back up from when he was in his 20s building car bodies from scratch. I’m not allowed to reveal too much of the project, but it looks like a car Marianich built from scratch is going to compete for the 2014 Ridler Award. You can barely see it behind the hood for the Hot Rod to Hell.

    I’ve been picking up metal-shaping tips from Marianich, that I’ll be sharing with you guys in the future. In fact here’s a quick tip for now. Before attempting to shape a fresh sheet of aluminum the tempered skin must be broken with 80-grit on a D-A. Notice on my hood the outer edges are still have a tempered sheen while the shaped areas are in an 80-grit finish.

    Tech Tips

    Freezing 2K AERO-SPRAY

    Ever since I first became aware of Eastwood 2K Aero-Spray two-component paints I’ve been curious to find out if they could be frozen to delay the catalyst kicking-off.

    I know this might sound crazy, but way back in 1973 I opened up a custom paint shop up in Calgary, Alberta and discovered Endura. There’s a lot more to this story, but the bottom line is I learned that Endura, a two-part component urethane’s pot life could be extended.

    By freezing Endura its 24-hour pot life could be extended indefinitely by chucking it into a freezer. Weeks later I’d take a catalyzed can out of the freezer and start shooting. It was truly amazing, it cut down material waste tremendously. Recently I conducted an experiment and in the early stages it looks like 2K Aero-Spray can be frozen to delay hardening.

    I say the early stages because I was too chicken to test a half-full can, and maybe waste it. The 2K Aero-Spray test can had about 10 good passes left in it. I used the entire can on an abstract painting I’d created using Auto Air Colors. The thawed 2K Aero-Spray clear worked as well as the pre-frozen portion of the test did. Also I’d like to mention I’m really impressed with how slick 2K Aero-Spray clear lays out, and what a nice thick coating it provides. I think next up I’m going to custom paint a Harley tank using 2K Aero-Spray clear as the topcoat.

  • West Coast Report 17th Edition: by John Gilbert

    Shop Talk — Street Rodder Road Tour Heads to Eastwood

    The beauty of cranking out a weekly blog as opposed to having to adhere to the strict format of a monthly magazine is being able to rely on stream of consciousness to come up with the content instead of a predetermined pagination. That said, it’s not a guarantee that I’m going to be writing anything here that someone might want to read, but I’ll take a shot at it.

    I do start with an idea, or premise as we used to call it back when I was a script writer for reality TV. First things first in this 17th edition of West Coast Eastwood I’d like to talk a little about the Podcast interviews Kevin Tetz conducts on Shop Talk. I’m sure anyone reading this is familiar with Kevin’s name, the first time I was introduced to Kevin’s work was while I was watching Trucks! on TV.

    In the first of the Shop Talk series Kevin has to look no further than the crew at Eastwood, and gets a preview of things to come with Eastwood’s Senior Content & Engagement Marketing Manager Nick Capinski. Next up was Brian Finch, and then on to Ron Covel. The interview with Ron Covel was very interesting because it covered who he apprenticed with and how he got started by building race car bodies at Brian Fullers. Of particular interest was listening to how Ron made the jump from fabricator to adding teacher to his credits, and ultimately developing the ability to speak in front of an audience.

    The latest Shop Talk interview posted 7/1/13 is with long time Street Rodder contributor Jerry Dixey, and I knew that was going to be a good one. It’s one thing to sit down write an article where one can back up and do a rewrite, but it’s really a talent when one can put it all together while they’re speaking, and have it as coherent as the written word.


    Last year I met up with Jerry at the Syracuse Nationals in Syracuse, New York, and was able to hear firsthand some tales of the cool places the folks got to visit while on the Street Rodder Road Tour. The really neat part is some of the places they go are private collections that are rarely seen by the general public. Next to the 2012 Road Tour ’40 Ford here’s an example of how hard Jerry works to keep the Road Tour participants up to date, and having memorable fun — Talk about providing personal attention for Road Tour participants, Jerry mans the Road Tour Hot Line 24-hours a day with his cell phone.

    —   John Gilbert

    ‘Merican Muscle

    The Longpre Grand Prix

    The following is an unedited draft of a car feature I shot and wrote for Muscle Car Review that appeared in the June 2013 issue. In the article I didn’t have room to expand on Ray Harstad at J&R Motorsports telling about how much he relied on using Eastwood products, but since I do have room here why not run an expanded look at Ray’s use of Eastwood products — But first, here’s the story.

    If there ever was a surefire way for a muscle car aficionado to make a fool out of himself its to get into an argument insisting a particular configuration of car was never built by the factory— There’s always an exception. Take for example Robert Longpre II’s 1960 Pontiac Catalina factory equipped with a Bonneville bucket seat interior, 4-bolt SD 389, and Corvette 4 speed transmission.

    The seed for this special edition Pontiac coming into creation began before World War II when Robert’s grandfather Raphael Longpre rose through the ranks to Pontiac’s Production Manager at the company’s home plant in Pontiac, Michigan. Robert’s father worked at Pontiac, and GM divisions all through high school and college before joining the Army Air Corps, and going off to war. After World War II Bob’s dad worked for Pontiac Motor in the Cincinnati office. In 1947 Bob Longpre senior formed a partnership with his cousin also named Bob Longpre, and opened a Pontiac dealership in Arlington Massachusetts. In 1950 Bob’s father moved the family to California, and opened Bob Longpre Pontiac in Monrovia. The dealership was on Route 66 the main drag right through the heart of town.

    In 1958 Bob’s father bought out Suburban Pontiac in Bellflower, California. Part of the new car inventory was a red and white ‘58 Pontiac 860 2-door hardtop with a hot 370-inch V8 and three-speed stick transmission. Bob’s dad decided to give him the ’58 to use as a driver. Bob told us “Suburban Pontiac had been big into drag racing, but the recession in 1958 took a lot of new car dealers down. This had been their drag race car and I doubt that GMAC or Pontiac would have wanted to buy the car back. It had a lot of horsepower, but was cursed with a three-speed column shift transmission. The shift linkage was always locking up in one gear or another. The shifting for the three-speed was so bad that it was common for Pontiac drag racers to start out in second gear hoping they could get at least one shift without jamming. I never took it to the drag strip, but had lots of street races.

    When the 1959 Pontiac models arrived, I had the chance to move up to a different car, and chose to go with an automatic transmission. As it turned out the silver Catalina coupe I named “Hydra-Magic” was fast. I ran it in A/Stock Automatic, and the car won lots of trophies at nearby San Gabriel dragstrip. I graduated in June of 1959 and my graduation present was to spend a month with my grandfather at the Pontiac plant and learn how cars were manufactured. My granddad introduced me to the various department heads, Pete Estes, John DeLorean, and General Manager Bunkie Knudsen.

    In September of ’59 I returned to Detroit with Hydra-Magic for the NHRA Nationals. At that time my granddad made the suggestion that I let him help build me a special racecar for 1960. I asked how special, and he replied anything that I wanted. Earlier that year in June while I was staying with my granddad I was cruising Woodward Avenue and spotted a ’59 Catalina 2-door hardtop Bunkie Knudsen had custom made for his daughter. It had a funny squared-off roof that later became the 1962 Grand Prix roofline. The interior had individual front bucket seats not available in a Catalina, and a 4 speed transmission obviously pirated out of a Corvette. It also had funny looking finned wheels instead of wheel covers. (As Pontiac’s General Manager John DeLorean got the lion’s share of credit for creating the Grand Prix line in ’62, but behind the scenes it was Bunkie Knudsen in 1959).

    When I got back to California I ordered what I wanted through my dad’s Pontiac dealership. The special options I desired that weren’t listed on the order form were handwritten on a list and sent to my grandfather for production. As a 17 year-old kid I made some goofy decisions on how I wanted the car equipped. I thought 3.90:1 was best, but Bunkie Knudsen convinced me a 4.56:1 rearend with Safe-T-Track would work best for drag racing. With the same interior dimensions fitting the Bonneville interior into the Catalina body was easy. The bucket seat mounts were welded in on the assembly line. The four-speed stick shift however could not be accommodated on the assembly line. A 4-speed was sent over from the Corvette plant and installed at a service department housed at the end of the production line. Afterward due to public demand there was maybe 15 Pontiacs ordered with the part number created for my car with 4-speeds installed at the end of the line. My ’60 Pontiac was the 12,690th car built that model year”.

    It took about a month for the Pontiac to be built. Unbeknownst to Bob, somewhere in between ordering the car in California to driving it off the assembly line in Michigan, his grandfather had Ray Nichols in Indianapolis add some super stock modifications including a lumpy solid-lifter cam. Bob recalled the performance of the car was very good, but not exceptional. He said it was so big and heavy racing it was like trying to teach a fat man to become a ballet dancer. The first time down the quarter-mile it ran 98 mph with a 14.30 ET. Not bad, but citing it wasn’t fast enough to win in 1960, Bob started to hop things up.

    The first improvement was a set of tube headers with cut-outs by Doug Robinson at Horsepower Engineering in Pasadena, California. Next the OE two-ply tires were ditched in favor of Atlas Bucron four-ply tires sourced from a local Chevron station. A drag racer’s dream, Atlas Bucrons were famous for a super soft sticky compound backed with an incredible guarantee that if you wore them out within so many miles Chevron would replace the tires for free.

    Bob’s dyno tune and engine guy was Roger Bursch owner of Scientific Automotive in Pasadena. Roger had a dyno, but couldn’t run cars uncorked adjacent residential housing. The solution was to drive down Colorado Boulevard to Champion Chevrolet, and borrow Don Nicholson’s dyno. After an evolutionary process that involved identifying the 348-horse, four-bolt 389’s hunger to round-off camshafts, and battling low oil-pressure spinning main bearings the final result was an NHRA legal 389 punched .060 over to 403-inches. Equipped with Jahn’s pistons, and cammed with an Isky E-2 carrying a Pontiac part number the Poncho picked up 30 horsepower at the rear wheels. By the time it was all said and done the ’60 uncorked, and shod with Bucrons held the super stock record at San Gabriel dragstrip, running 104.71 mph with a 13.41 ET.

    In February 1960, Bob joined the Army, and had hoped to store the Pontiac, but his dad informed him they were in the car business and cars were not to be kept as pets, they were merchandise. The ex-drag car was shod with Vogue tires and sold like cattle.

    Fast forward 50 years to July 16, 2010, Bob is at his Westminster, California Lexus dealership when he spots an ad on eBay headlining a 1960 Pontiac Catalina with Bonneville interior. The seller’s name is George Knevelbaard, Bob discovers George to be extremely honest, and a Pontiac preservationist to boot. George bought the car in 1993 from Dale Boomgaarden a Gilroy, California drag racer that bought the ’60 in 1964 from Bob Shiro Motors in San Jose. Dale’s description of the car when he bought it fit right to a T including the Vogue tires. In 2004, George loaded up the ’60 Pontiac and moved from Artesia, California to retire in Michigan.

    The first thing Bob did when he was reunited with his “brass hat” drag car was to contact Raymond Harstad at J&R Motorsports in Costa Mesa, California. Raymond is a fully-certified master mechanic, and one those rare individuals that can disassemble a vintage automobile and put it back together without signs of it having ever been apart. Next along with his Mopar racer buddy Bob Small, Bob hauled the gutted shell down to Steve Kouracos’ autobody shop in Rancho Santa Margarita, California. When the ‘60 returned to Raymond’s shop for reassembly it was in a perfect rendition of its original Newport Blue metallic paint.

    Bob recalls the 60s were the Golden Age of factory sponsored drag racing. Stating if you found a part you liked the factory would give it a part number so you could race with it. He also considers himself very fortunate for having the opportunity to enjoy this particular car not once, but twice.

    Ray Harstad at J&R Motorsports in Costa Mesa, mere feet from Newport Beach, is known for producing show quality work on a consistent basis. Ray said he used a lot of Eastwood products during the ’60 Pontiac’s restoration. 2K Aero-Spray Underhood Black was used throughout including the Poncho’s Tri-Power air-cleaner. Two component urethane paints provide a finish equal to powdercoat in durability, and do require complete disassembly of the part to be painted.

    Under a dual-snorkel air-cleaner resides a Tri-power SD 389 blueprinted for racing. Eastwood spray paints coat the carbs, aluminum parts, and cast-iron brake master-cylinder. Undercarriage as well.

    Eastwood Carb Renew II Bronze does a beautiful job of replicating the factory original zinc chromate (gold cad) plating, plus offers a Fuel-Resistant formula. Notice the Alternator has been renewed with Aluma Blast.

    It isn't necessary to disassemble carburetors to spray Carb Renew II Bronze onto the carburetor. Although disassembly produces more professional results. Note the triple Rochester 2GC cast-iron carburetor bases have been restored using 12 oz. aerosol Spray Gray acrylic lacquer.

    Ray used Eastwood’s special coatings to ensure proper engine and cooling system performance. Radiator Black dries quick, resists heat to 300-degrees, and will not clog radiator cooling fins as heavier bodied paints tend to do.

    Brake Gray resists damage from brake fluid which is a quality that not all paint finishes can claim.

    Spray Gray, and Aluma Blast provided the Pontiac factory installed Corvette 4-speed with a show-quality appearance. Notice the car’s underside was treated to Rubberized Undercoating.

    Unlike heavily petroleum tar based undercoatings Eastwood Rubberized Undercoating can be top-coated with spray paint and achieve flawless results without oily bleed through.

    The Poncho’s stunningly clean appearing undercarriage was painted with 2K Ceramic Chassis Black. Again thanks to being a two component product the finish far exceeds the durability of common single component spray paints.

    Superior to bias-ply Coker American Classic whitewall radials are mounted on the original 8-lug Pontiac factory mags. Gas-charged shocks complete the upgrade.

    Pontiac utilized the ’60 Corvette console with a Pontiac ashtray supplanting the chrome knob Corvette ashtray.

    Every model of 1960 Pontiac trunk mats were trimmed in red. A ’61 blue style pattern was custom made in a ’60 pattern to fit Bob’s trunk.

    Bonneville emblems adorn the wood accented dash with grab bar and rear optional speaker. Power windows, but no power brakes, Bob didn’t like the wide PB pedal.

    The Longpre Grand Prix is the only 1960 Catalina ever fitted with a Bonneville interior.

  • 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   My eyes are bleeding I must take a nap now.

  • 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.


  • 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 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.

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