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Tag Archives: west coast eastwood

  • West Coast Report 31st Edition by John Gilbert

    The phone rang and there was a pretty little female voice at the other end — “Hi are you John Gilbert, this is Christy from Infiniti, and we have your QX50 ready for a test drive.”
  • West Coast Report 30th Edition by John Gilbert

    I don’t know if any of you guys have noticed this yet, but the Hot to Hell is strictly a low-budget project. It illustrates how effective restoration products like specialty paints can be to make something look every bit as good as the deep-pockets approach. For some reason I got fanatical about having a deep gloss on the engine.
  • West Coast Report 29th Edition by John Gilbert

    I’d mentioned in the 26th West Coast Report that I’d spoken with Arlen Ness, on his 70th birthday, but I left out Arlen asked me to call him back the next day when was at his shop and had more time to talk. Monday, that’s when the conversation really got interesting.
  • West Coast Report 28th Edition by John Gilbert

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

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

     — John Gilbert

    Outlaw Rodder

    Fully-Smooth a Block Without Grinding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Outlaw Rodder

    Special Paint for Aluminum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Caesar Tostada Deluxe El Supremo

    Make Mexicali’s Latest Culinary Delight at Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Apply Parmesan cheese liberally.

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

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

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

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

    91 Car Show

    The 2nd Annual Featured Chevy

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

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

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

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

  • West Coast Report 27th Edition by John Gilbert

    Fiberglass Tech - Rustin’ Gold - Dodge my Garage

    Outlaw Rodder

    Fun With Fiberglass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Garages Customized Into “Ram Caves”

    Does My ’86 Dodge Ram Count?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Hot Miscellanea

    Radically Hacked ’58 Chevy Caught Jamming North

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

    Rustin’ Gold

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

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

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

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

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

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