West Coast Report — 32nd Edition by John Gilbert

The Bucket— Chuck-it ­— Truck-it List

Banzai! the Chadly coupe in St Augustine Beach, Florida, I left the next day for Tennessee.

It was the “Psychedelic 60s” and my friends, and I were active members of America’s disaffected mobile youth. I’ve been heading out on the road since before I had a drivers license. I didn’t drive illegally, a group of three, or four of us would all pile in with whoever had a drivers license, owned wheels, and we’d get out on the highway. Sometimes the vehicle of choice would blowup only a few miles out of town, and we’d have to commandeer a plan B mode of transportation.

Still in Fl. A gooey mix of Royal Purple and Valvoline gear oil.

Specifically I remember the time a ’53 Chevy Suburban blew up so hard a rod severed the camshaft on its way out through the side of the block. The old Chevy hemorrhaged a trail of black oil right into a spot behind the Shell station on Baldwin Park Boulevard where we abandoned the truck. A “dipper-rod” 216-inch Chevy 6 didn’t carry a lot of oil-pressure in the best of times, and this one had just met with its last time.

Damn, I spent the entire day driving up through Georgia, and didn’t take one photo. Too bad, the rest stops had cold A/C, and the residents in Georgia, including the State Troopers were good people… that’s 60’s talk.

Our Buddy Gary didn’t want to do it, but he caved-in to driving his ’68 Roadrunner with a 383, and a 4-speed.

Chattanooga, Tennessee. Stone tired, with a beat-up camera that seems to have gone out to lunch… Won’t focus, can’t focus, out of focus. I’m telling you, it was focused up.

That brand-new Plymouth was the fast way to travel in style. For meals on the go we tore up a giant round loaf of La Puente made sourdough bread, and during the course of 1,000 hard-driven miles, destroyed the interior of Gary’s Roadrunner.

This is on the outskirts of Cadiz, Kentucky, overlooking a bunch of buried dead people that were roaming the earth when this Model A was brand-new. Hey, who knows this Model could have been driven to Cadiz, back when all the other cars looked almost just like it. 

The spilled Tuna with macaroni and melted cheese might have been what pounded the last nail into the Roadrunner’s coffin. It couldn’t have been the goat brain burritos.

If I remember right I was on Route 24. This is the first rest stop in Illinois, after crossing the bridge from Kentucky. “Two span tied-arch bridge on Interstate 24 over the Ohio River between Paducah, Kentucky, and Metropolis, Illinois.”

I’ll never forget Columbia, Missouri. The little gastardo motel clerk didn’t give me back, my drivers license, and I was too tired to remember it.

The Great Race. It rained the night I spent in Columbia, MO. Thanks to Corky Coker for insisting I had something to keep the rain out. 

Today, I’m in my 60s, and it’s a rare occasion when any of my lifelong friends and I can get together to take a road trip. That said, it doesn’t stop us from calling one another from wherever they end up on a solo journey.

Early morning it was still wet when I got up. Went and ate the crappiest motel breakfast ever, short of eating genuine feces.

This morning I got a call from my friend Herman, he lives about a mile from me here in Orange County. Herman was in Cadiz, Kentucky, at the gas station I’d called him from Summer before last while I was driving the Chadly coupe across country.

Here’s the Chadly coupe ready to roll towards St Louis. I ate at a Golden Coral in East St. Louis, was almost too fat to fit back into the coupe. Left the A/C back to heat and carbon monoxide poisoning. My brain hurts just thinking about it.

After catching up on Herman’s tour the day before at the Corvette museum in Bowling Green, KY. we talked about his uncle’s new Corvette that had just finished being built at the Bowling Green plant.

I ventured off the highway towards Blackwater, Missouri.

We said how cool it would have been if Herman could have gotten a photo of it at the end of the assembly line.

Downtown Blackwater, MO. Had the coupe ever been here back before it got its top chopped, and Chrysler Hemi steroids?

From there we started talking about Corvettes we had both owned back in the day, and that got Herman to telling me about his list of cars he still wants to get before he kicks the bucket.

On the road again, only now with a gut full of down home food, and leaving some good looking tourist ladies with a picture of me and my coupe. I probably reminded them of their crazy granddad.

I said yeah, I’ve got a chuck-it list going right now. I have a bunch of old cars and trucks I want to get rid of before I consider acquiring anything else.

Look at the old junk Japanese car in the background. No one’s going to be chopping its top in 50 years.

And of course I have only about a month left before I need to finish off the Hot Rod to Hell, and head for Hell, Michigan.

Overlooking the Kansas City Chief’s stadium whatever its called. I’m too lazy to Google it. The Arrowhead Pond, or Something?

Please refer to the 31st West Coast Report if this doesn’t make sense. I haven’t heard back from that nice girl at Infiniti about a test vehicle, so I might have to drive the Hot Rod to Hell to SEMA.

  —John Gilbert

Speedy Bill on the phone right after we took a few shots with us both standing next to the car. It was good thing Damon Lee was there to suggest it, otherwise the photos would never exist.

Have a cold one on Speedy Bill. Thanks to Jessica for feeding me vegetables and fruit, and packing a case of Speedy Bill’s ice-cold drinking water.

The Chadly coupe spent the night in this South Lake Tahoe, garage. I slept in the coupe the two nights before. Cheyenne, Wyoming just at dusk, by the time I got to Laramie, it was too dark to see. Drove all night, slept in the coupe at the Macdonald’s parking lot in Rock Springs, Wyoming. I almost drove all the way back to Columbia, MO to choke out the motel clerk, and get my drivers license back.

Stripping Powder Coat

I was talking with Patrick Meurs one Sunday at the monthly Enderle cruise about how nice the chrome work on his ’57 Chevy 2-door coupe was. That led us to talking about what Patrick does for a living, and the next I knew I was touring Patrick’s business operation Linco Industries in Anaheim, California. I couldn’t find a shot of Patrick’s silver ’57 Chevy coupe, so here’s another ’57 Chevy that shows up at the Enderle Center show in Tustin, CA. the last Sunday of every month, and the first Sunday of the following month.

Here’s Patrick with a cold-stripped Harley-Davidson inner primary cover that came from the factory in a thick black wrinkle finish powder coat. Anyone that’s ever tried to strip parts down to the bare metal that have been powder coated will tell you that its next to impossible to get that stuff off. Sandblasting, aircraft strippers, grinders, beavers with really sharp teeth, nothing seems to work very well. Then one day wouldn’t you know it I stumbled onto the answer while I working on a story about something completely different. Well, not completely different, but it wasn’t about how to strip powder coating, at least not at first that is.

Here’s a proverbial passel of powder coated black winkle finished Harley-

Davidson primary covers, and wheels lined up for the cold-dip strip tank.

A little light from the camera flash on the subject reveals which areas are bare, and which are powder coated.

Here’s the before shot of a Harley wheel headed to the stripper. At this I’ll not make any off-color jokes about heading to the strip club, or pander to organizations hell bent on bringing attention to the objectification of Harley-Davidson parts. Be Politically Correct, Strive for blandness! It’s the new World Order and that’s an order from the oppressive anonymous bland people that celebrate in closets while mass indulging in hypocrisy and try to force their evil will on the free for personal profit, and fame… whatever that means.

OK, that’s enough coffee for me, here’s what the black wrinkle wheels, and rear pulley look like fresh out of the cold-dip strip tank. Request a cold-dip strip tank be installed at your local Peppermint Rhino, or Cheetah’s.

These Harley-Davidson aluminum lower fork legs (sliders) come powder coated in clear. After a very short time ugly badness in the form of white powdery oxidation appears under the factory clear powder coat.

Its hard to imagine these Evo cases were once black wrinkle finished.

Evo heads, and cases with some weird looking aluminum tubes. Oh, well.

These  car wheels were sent to Linco from a wheel manufacturer that screwed up the first time it tried to powder coat these wheels. Its far cheaper to have Linco strip the wheels and re-powder coat than it is to scrap the wheels.

Patrick Meurs operation, Linco is in Anaheim, California and specialize in chemical stripping only. Patrick tracked down a monstrous used Kolene molten salt tank in Ontario, Canada, and had it shipped to Anaheim, California. After spending $50,000 to have the behemoth delivered, and his new industrial property upgraded to accept it, Patrick was in business.

Here’s a pallet of wheels at the very stage in the salt tank.

Here’s how they look at the very end after having the salty brine flushed off.

To demonstrate plus its fun to do, Patrick wadded up a newspaper page to demonstrate to how hot the salt tank is.

Quick like a bunny, Patrick tossed the wadded newspaper into the tank.

It took only a second for the newspaper to burst into flames.

Here’s the last of the flames, and then it was time to wad up another newspaper. This continued until we ran out of newspaper. In lieu of newspaper pages, do not throw the Internet into a Kolene salt tank as the Internet is invisible, and not half as much fun.

California has boQue air-quality regulations that are placed on chemical operations. Here’s the stack to the afterburner that must run at all times. The folks at CARB should mandate restaurants that throw dead fish into the trash do something about the stench. I suggest Mesquite charcoal be used in afterburners similar to this.

Three-headed fish are cute, but water quality is also an issue. Nothing harmful is allowed to go into the sewer.  These big special plastic vats are filled with contaminated water and are shipped to another state. Maybe even Japan, compared to the contaminated water at the Fukushima, Nuclear Plant this stuff would be like drinking Perrier.

Vic Herrman’s Coupe

 Here’s a story I wrote that never got published. It has never appeared anywhere until now. No sense wasting it, I found some photos cameraman extraordinaire Ryan Manson, shot of the car, and here’s the story for you guys to read.

Leave it to Herrmann

Vic’s Chopped ’34 Coupe - By John Gilbert

Photography: Ryan Manson

For those that grew up in Southern California during the 1950s, 1957 was an exceptionally good year. The first episode of Leave it to Beaver aired on CBS, the Russians successfully launched Sputnik, and Wham-O introduced the Pluto-Platter. For Vic Herrmann owner of the chopped ’34 Ford 3-window coupe pictured here, 1957 was the year he turned 13, found a derelict ’31 Model A coupe for $75.00, and was looking forward to a promising career as a hot-rodder. Vic lived in West Hollywood, California, at the time, and there was nothing he and his local buddies enjoyed more than “tearing down, cleaning, repairing, painting and re-assembling” an old Ford in their parents driveway. With the arrival of 1958 the United States had joined the space race, the Pluto-Platter was renamed the Frisbee, and young Vic Herrmann was a common sight learning all he could at the early Ford parts shop on Hollywood Boulevard. In the years to follow, Vic’s Model A gave way to a mild custom ’52 Ford, a ’41 Mercury woody, and Vic was definitely considered an active member of So Cal’s booming custom car culture. The dawn of 1963 brought dark change; Leave it to Beaver was in its last season, LBJ made the world unsafe for Beagle ears, and Vic Herrmann forsake hot-rods to get a college degree. In 1969, Vic with his new bride moved to Mill Valley, California where he became a banker, bought a house, and raised a family. It was 1997 before Vic would build another rod. His first post retirement project was a ’34 Ford pickup painted by Dennis Moitozo, and upholstered by Howdy Ledbetter that went on to win first in its class at the 2001 Grand National Roadster Show. Vic told us the stock ’34 chassis he had left over from building the pickup was like the ’39 Chevy steering wheel he had as a kid that egged him on to complete a wooden go-kart. With the ’34 pickup frame as a founding part the search was on to find a ’34 coupe body. Looking to Nor Cal’s network of street rodders Vic learned from Vern Tardell that Mike DeVriendt up in Colorado Springs, Colorado had a chopped coupe shell. Vic and Mike came to terms, and then Mike hauled the body down to the bay area during the 2002 Grand Nationals. Using the skills Dennis Moitozo, and Bob Bromell helped Vic to hone during the pickup build came in handy when it was time for Vic to tear into the coupe body. From the beltline down the coupe’s bare steel looked not bad, but the roof was another story. Bob Bromell convinced Vic the crude filled top with bad welds needed to be torn out, and redone. Since the original tack strips located underneath were left in place Bob advised it would be best to restore the top to original — This cast the die to build a traditional styled car. Vic’s first parts order was to Bob Drake for the coach wadding and extruded piece needed to do the roof insert. “A very good craftsman, and hands-on” as described by the pro builders involved in the ’34 project, Vic devised a tool to form the bends needed to shape the extruded stick. This is just one of many examples where Vic opted to do as much work himself as possible on the coupe. The rear fenders came from Gaslight and were bobbed by Vic while the front cycle fenders are actually early Ford spare tire covers; Vic chopped the tire covers down, and then Marco Mennucci of San Anselmo, California rolled the beads. Completing the ’34 pickup established bonds; once again the body, and paint work was handled by Moitozo’s. Using Dupont products from start to finish, Dennis finessed the ‘34’s sheetmetal until it was ready for a slick single stage coating of 99A Pitch Black Centauri acrylic enamel catalyzed with a polyurethane cross-linker. The interior was another unique situation where a pro allowed Vic into his shop to work alongside on the car. Howdy Ledbetter started with a Glide seat, re-shaped and added foam, and then finished it off in super soft black glove leather. Behind the seat is a hidden Alpine sound system covered with an upholstered panel Howdy perforated over the speakers to let the music out. The door panels are in black vinyl, and the carpet is tight woven black wool. Traditional means the way things used to be done, and the 355-inch Chevy engine under the ‘34’s hood is no exception. Vic inherited an oil-burning ’79 Chevy 4-bolt 350 truck motor from a friend, and had it custom built from scratch by Marty Amon of Petaluma, California. Marty is also the guy who rebuilt the 4-speed Borg-Warner T-10 transmission.  It was an interesting experience writing about Vic’s 34, and talking with the professionals that allowed Vic to work side-by-side with them. By the time the project was all said and done the pros concurred that Vic really missed his calling back in 1963.

A ’79 355 built by Marty Amon, Moon finned aluminum valve covers on GM 487 cast-iron heads flank an Edelbrock Performer carb and intake combo. The ignition is from MSD of El Paso, TX with headers from Sanderson, and the dipstick looks like a Lokar. Greg Walsh did the final tuning.

Hot Rod Hall of Fame upholster, Howdy Ledbetter sculpted numerous densities of special foam before he covered the Glide seat frame in super-soft black glove leather. Behind the seat Alpine speakers are housed in cabinets built by Vic, and hidden with a perfed panel Howdy made.

Howdy covered the door panels in black vinyl. The minimal green tinted window glass was done by Rick’s Glass in Fremont, CA.

A genuine Ford polished stainless steel locking gas cap tops a Bob Drake11 gallon ’34 tank. The perfect touch was added when pinstripper Randy Bergerson of Hayward, CA pulled red stripes on the headlights and taillights.

F A C T S  & F I G U R E S

Name Vic Herrmann

City, State Mill Valley, California

Year, Make, Model 1934 Ford 3-window coupe

CHASSIS

Frame / Manufacturer Ford

Wheelbase       106”

Modifications  modified K-member to accommodate ’39 Ford brake master

Chassis plumbing hand-formed stainless

Rearend / Ratio Ford 9-inch / 3.50:1

Rear suspension Pete and Jakes (Peculiar, MO)  ’40 Ford style buggy spring

Rear brakes Ford late model 11” drums

Front suspension Magnum 4” drop axle (Oakhurst, CA)

Front brakes ’39 Lincoln 12” drum

Master cylinder ’39 Ford

Steering box ’56 Ford F-100

Wheel covers ’35 Ford

Front wheel make, size ’35 Ford 16x4” wire

Rear wheel make, size Wheel Vintique 16x7” wire (Fresno, CA)

Front tire make, size Coker Classic radial 185/R16

Rear tire make, size Michelin LTX P 265/75-R16

Gas tank ’34 Ford 14-gallon Bob Drake Reproductions (Grants Pass, OR)

ENGINE

Make  Chevrolet

Displacement  355 ci

Machining / Assembly Marty Amon (Petaluma, CA (707) 338-5419)

Pistons Silv-o-lite 9.0:1 (Carson City, NV)

Camshaft Comp Cams 270H (Memphis, TN)

Radiator Walker (Memphis, TN)

Manifold / Induction Edelbrock Performer intake and carb (Torrance, CA)

Headers Sanderson (So. San Francsico, CA)

Exhaust / Mufflers custom double-cone stainless (Jerry Burak, Los Angeles, CA)

TRANSMISSION

Make Borg-Warner T-10 rebuilt by Marty Amon

Clutch disc Centerforce II (Prescott, AZ)

Pressure plate Centerforce II

Shifter Hurst (Chatsworth, CA)

Driveshaft  steel Driveline Services, (San Leandro, CA)

BODY

Body style / Material 3-window coupe / steel

Body manufacturer Ford

Body mods 2 5/8” chop, artist unknown

Hood Ford

Grille Ford

Bodywork Dennis Moitozo, Bob Brommel, Vic Herrmann

Paint type / Color Dupont acrylic enamel / Pitch Black

Painter Moitozo’s (Hayward, CA (510) 276-9064)

Headlights / Taillights GLC from the 40s / ’37 Ford

INTERIOR

Dashboard stock

Insert / Gauges stock / Haneline (Omega, GA)

Stereo / Speakers Alpine / Alpine SPX-177R

Insulation Dyanmat (Hamilton, OH)

Wiring Enos (San Luis Obispo, CA)

Steering wheel Juliano’s Banjo (Ellington, CT)

Steering column ’34 Ford with modified shaft

Outside mirror Bob Drake

Seats Glide reworked by Howdy Ledbetter

Upholsterer Howdy Ledbetter (Hayward, CA (510) 657-6683)

Material / Color leather and vinyl / dark black

Carpet black German wool

Seatbelts Juliano’s 3-point

Rustin’ Gold

What’s Hupp?

OK, so I couldn’t resist a corny title, but what’s new. This I think is a 1925 Hupp RRS Special Roadster.

Should this be incorrect information, Hupp fanatics please address all hate mail to my satellite office in Juneau, Alaska.

I haven’t checked my mail there since 1972, but you never know I might make it back there before I die. This car is in Placentia, California, stored out in public view in a nicely landscaped arrearage with a little brown dog named Whitey.

Someone should call the city of Placentia, and complain, so a Starbucks can go up on that corner. We need more urban blight, there needs to be a Starbucks on every corner, and a Chucky Cheese in every garage. Also two chickens in every pot.

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