Part 3: The Light at the End of the Tunnel

This is it, I swear.  I also said I’d finish it up last week, so who am I to think anyone is going to believe me?  I’m just a guy building a gasser with control arms, power disc brakes, radial tires, overdrive, and a full interior ranting on the internet about other people’s shit.  It’s cool though, unlike Instagram, my content doesn’t get pulled at random here, so hooray for me.

Ed Roth.  He built cars out of wads of newspaper, plaster, and fibreglass.  Stuff that nobody had ever seen before.  Two engines? Sure!  Bubble top?  You bet!  Mis-matched headlights and other asymmetrical touches?  Of course!  That was just one car.  He didn’t raise the bar, because I don’t think he wanted to.  Rather, he built his own bar somewhere else, and set it wherever he wanted.  The Orbitron had three different colored headlights to create (allegedly) a truly white light.  The Surfite was built around a surf board.  My favourite has always been the Beatnik Bandit…  I think it’s the paint job that does it.

Why bring up Ed Roth today?  Because he was an innovator.  I don’t think he gave a damn what the current trends were.  He painted monsters on t-shirts, built crazy cars out of mostly junk, and wore a hillbilly hat and paint-covered pants.  He didn’t have the popular hot rodder image, what he had was fun.  The model kits alone must have been a blast for him, and I know I’m not alone in saying that they made my childhood better.

What am I getting at with this?  It’s simple:  If you want era correct, that’s cool, but it’s not my thing, and it’s certainly not necessary, despite the current trend.  Maybe you want disc brakes?  Build a car so radical, so different, that people don’t notice the brakes until the third or fourth time they see it.  The same goes for wheels, tires, carburetors, valve covers, and gauges.  If you can incorporate it into a unique car that flows well, no one credible is going to criticize it.  Don’t be scared of critics, they’re everywhere, and they rarely carry solutions.  I’d be much more concerned hating a car that I built from someone else’s ideas than I would be concerned with building something I love that not everyone else does.  Don’t like what others are building?  Build yours better.  Inspire, don’t criticize.  Also, get inspired, a copycat is just a fresh version of someone else’s creativity.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go stare at a pile of parts and convince myself I want to put them back together again.

Part 2: Still Lost and Disillusioned

In light of what is going on in the U.S. right now, and what sore losers Democrats are, it’s time for part two of part one from last week.  This year, I’d like to do a lot more blog entries, but we’ll see.  I vent, it’s what I do.  I don’t bottle stuff up.  If you’ve met me, you know, and if not, I’m loud and offensive.  I’m also self-destructive and mildly entertaining.  Husband material, right?  Not so much.

Cars.  This is about cars, and the people that build them.  I’ve gotta focus.  Remember what I said about progress?  I still see it, faintly.  Tons of shops are out there tucking bumpers, chopping tops, and altering things so flawlessly, that you can’t tell how it’s been altered.  There’s also tons of shops out there that are placing orders with Summit, Speedway, and even other shops, then assembling the car like a model kit, with little to no original touches or any fabrication.  There’s nothing wrong with doing this if you’re an enthusiast with limited tools or talent, but a shop?  Shops should use more than a Craftsman socket set.  The part that gets me, is that people now accept this as the norm, and are starting to reject innovation.

Disclaimer:  I use new parts that look like old parts, almost everyone does now, as old parts are ridiculously expensive.  You know what else is getting ridiculously expensive?  New parts that look like old parts.  A three deuce setup can go for almost as much as a complete supercharger kit…  Crazy!  And it doesn’t look “right”.  There’s always something that just doesn’t fit, either a single part, or a few parts that are machined instead of cast, or cast noticeably different.  It never really used to bother me, but now that I’m seeing it more and more, it’s starting to…  A lot of money is changing hands to make new look old, but unfortunately, it just looks like “knock-off old”.

Now, I don’t want to be one of those guys who picks out flaws from across the fairgounds, as that’s what muscle car guys normally do, but it’s in the hot rod world, too.  I’m seeing a sway in the scene, where the hot rod shops are trying to keep ultra-nostalgic, while the muscle car shops are boldly moving forward with modern technology, new ideas, and radical modifications.  No longer is it only the muscle car crowd picking out the wrong grille or emblem location, but now, the hot rod crowd are pointing out pieces from the wrong period, or parts that have been refinished incorrectly.  Is it good for the scene?  Short answer, no.  Not maybe.  Not perhaps.  Not conditionally.  No.

The first car I ever built was a Corvette.  They have instruction manuals, literally.  Very few makes and models are documented as well as the Chevrolet Corvette.  There is a way to build them, and the books are available everywhere. It’s simple, like Tee-ball, tracing, or connect-the-dots.  Hot rods are different, or at least they were when I first became interested in them.  They were a form of self-expression.  Sure, some self-expression is tasteless, but they always carried with them all the ideas of the creator.  Nowadays, I’m seeing the same paint colors, the same wheel and tire combos, very few flames, and almost no angel hair or flake.  What the heck?  The Chevy small block is getting shamed as “overdone” or “not traditional”, even though the first one was made available in 1955… If you are brave enough to use one, be sure it has the “right” valve covers,  and the “correct” intake and carburetor on it.  Modern roller cam?  Forget that! Only a Duntov will do, so be ready to adjust your rockers.  Where am I going with this?  On a rant, apparently.  Find out later this week where I think it should go.  For now, where I need to go is bed…

 

Is it an Illusion, or am I Disillusioned?

I’m writing this on the internet.  You’re reading this on the internet.  That right there is kind of a problem.  I did a ton of writing in school, nothing more than I had to, of course, but I always opted for the written word over a sketch if the choice was presented.  After that, I’d do the odd article on Facebook (back when I had an active account).  The Facebook stuff got my name out there, and I ended up getting a weekly column in the local newspaper.  After a few years of that, I started this blog.  Progress, right?  The problem is, I like hard copies.  There’s just something about the newsstand, pages filled with advertisements,  and the credibility and confidence it takes to actually invest in print.  Any asshole can write a blog for cheap/free, and I’m a perfect example of that.

Why don’t I like the internet that much?  There’s just too much information.  There’s so much, in fact, that most of it doesn’t have to be real.  I don’t want to sound like some sort of “End of Days” lunatic, but it’s starting to ruin society.  The world is full of anonymous critics, long-distance hostility, and people who are now too scared to try anything new for fear of a lack of acceptance.  Have you ever heard of anything so ridiculous?

First thing’s first: I’ve never built a pre-war car.  I’ve owned four different Ford bodies, but have never done much anything with them (I actually sold 3/4 of them).  It’s not for a lack of knowledge on how to build them, as I’ve got books from the likes of Tex Smith, and friends who’ve been doing this for over fifty years.  It’s also not for a lack of funds, as right now I’m building a tri-five Chevy, and I can assure you that it will break me way before a little Model T Ford ever will.  I think it’s a lack of direction.  Hot rodding was founded on the idea of speed.  Take something small and lightweight, and do whatever it takes to make it fast.  Can you imagine going for your first ride in a Model T, only ever knowing the ways of a horse-drawn wagon?  How about when the first flathead V8 was available to the common man?  Shortly after that, the flathead V8 would’ve been readily available to install in a tired Model T Ford.  That’s progress.  That’s bad ass.  Progress is bad ass.

Nowadays, we’re both spoiled and sheltered.  There’s 1000 horsepower street cars with power steering and air conditioning.  There’s critics who will say no “real” hot rod has parts on it that were invented outside of the 1940’s.  Then there’s those of us who are in the middle with an open mind, trying to make something work.  Will these gauges match those wheels?  Is this paint color too modern?  I know it won’t be reliable, but will it at least be able to get itself on and off the trailer?  I know it’s wrong, but it’s okay if the hood hides it, right?  So many questions, so many answers, and so many opinions.  Remember what I said about progress in the last paragraph?  It’s starting to crumble a little, and I’ll cover that in part two of this in the next couple days.

Short? How About Just The Tip?

If you want short, you’ve got it!  I still own a Corvette, so I know a thing or two about stuff being short…  Anyways, what can a guy say about exhaust tips?  They’re made of legit stainless, so they’re not magnetic and won’t peel before turning all orange and brown.  They’re well-polished, and have the “Pypes” logo laser-etched into the top of them like a modern socket set.  The box and wrapping did a good job of keeping them minty, and I picked the pair up on a Black Friday deal for $36.00 U.S.  Part number EVT-49, if you’re into that.  Oh, they’re going to be fed nothing but hostile, ignorant noise by a pair of Pypes M80 mufflers, and a Comp XR288 cam.  Should be a good time.

Quite Possibly My New Instrument Supplier

New Vintage USA.  Ever heard of them?  Neither had I, at least not until I was browsing various gauges on Summit Racing and their name appeared.  They looked good in the pictures, and they were priced competitively.  Made in the USA even?  Really?  Next thing you know, they had a Black Friday deal, so I ordered a tach, part number 37141-01.  It only set me back $125.96 US, so I’ve done worse.

I have about six tachometers in stock…  All of them are used, all of them work, and most of them look pretty cool right where they are, on display like little mechanical pieces of art.  This tach is different, as I promised myself that it’s going directly into the Money Shot Pontiac.  Is it worthy?  You bet!  First up: the packaging.  It comes in a clear clamshell that’s quite a bit bigger than the gauge itself, fairly sturdy, and taped shut for safety.  All sides are visible, and not only does it say “New Vintage USA Detroit” at the top, but it also says “Made in the USA” at the bottom.  Could it be real?  Not China, not Mexico, but rather the USA?

Since I have personal experience with both Classic Instruments and Autometer, I have a solid basis for comparison.  My set of Autometer gauges have domed plastic lenses, a fairly narrow chromed bezel that’s metal of some sort, and around-the-dial lighting via incandescent bulb.  My set of Classic gauges have flat glass lenses, a fairly narrow chromed bezel that’s metal of some sort, and around-the-dial lighting via incandescent bulb.  This gauge had a domed glass lens, a thick chromed bezel that’s thin wrapped metal of some sort, and around-the-dial lighting via incandescent bulb.  They all have a similar feel, but I can’t help but think that the Autometer falls short of the other two in appearance.  That set was also cheaper, to be fair…

It comes with more nuts and washers than anyone could ever need, which is good, as they’re brass, so when you drop them you’re not fishing them out with a magnet…  They’re gone.  It also comes with instructions, and I have no comment on them, as it’s a tachometer.  If you’re reading this, you probably don’t need instructions, either.

In conclusion, I still need fuel/temp/volt/oil gauges, and I do believe I’m going to go for it.  They’ll adapt nicely into the stock openings, the color and font is almost factory, and the price is right.  They also make a matching boost/vacuum gauge, and I don’t necessarily need to run a hood…

Product Review: A Tin Can

Why would a guy even buy such a thing?  It’s nothing but an expensive tin can that’s sealed everywhere except the three holes in the top.  Yep.  That being said, it looks good, it’s well built, and it won’t melt from the excessive heat that iron heads and fenderwell headers will create.  Oh, and it’s not a greasy, rejected piece of a smog system like some people use.

The part number is SUM-G1464B, and I bet it’s not made in North America…  It comes wrapped in plastic inside a plain, white cardboard box.  Included are a zinc-plated bracket, rubber grommet, plastic check valve, brass elbow, and steel pipe plug.  The instructions are solid if you need them, and the slightly-textured, semi-gloss powdercoat is nice.  It’s heavy, but that’s good, as I don’t think it will dent easily. In reality, it feels a lot like those green propane tanks that people take camping, so if you want to save a few bucks, you could modify one of those.

Overall, I’m happy with it.  My power brakes should work properly, I now have a place to hook up a boost/vac gauge,  and I don’t have to clean it up and paint it myself.

Mail Call!

My Summit Racing order arrived on Monday, but I had shit to do, so I unboxed and inspected it all last night.  I literally didn’t need any of this stuff right now, but there was a Black Friday deal on, so I got about $1000 worth of parts I’ll eventually need, for under $700 shipped.  Not bad!  This random little box contained parts from Quick Fuel, Pypes, New Vintage USA, and even some knock-off Summit-branded junk.  That being said, I haven’t been doing anything aside from working on the car lately, so I’ve had nothing to write about.  Stay tuned, as I’m going to review some of these parts.  Tonight’s review?  Summit packing.  Check out this length of pillow-packing.  It’s as long as the Money Shot!

Keeping The Scene Alive

but it must be pretty cool to be you, with your brothers at your back, protecting you”

-Milo Aukerman, Descendents

I’ve loved punk rock ever since the Offspring released their Smash album in 1994, back when I wasn’t old enough to hear language like that.  “Bad Habit”, a deadly road rage tune with an offensive a cappella piece in the middle of it.  “Come Out and Play”, a song highlighting youth gang and gun violence.  My personal favourite?  “Self Esteem”, a catchy song about a lack thereof.  What do the Descendents have to do with this?  Nothing.  I’ve been a fan almost as long as I have the Offspring, and the lyric is relevant to what this whole thing is about.

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“Things were better back in the day”, said every irrelevant old person ever, but they’re not far off.  A while ago, I read something about how much better hot rodding was in the early-to-mid-nineties.  The cars were built more affordably, with more used parts, and more soul.  Not only did the cars have soul, but so did the people.  There weren’t posers, as the scene was just coming back, so there wasn’t an established identity to assume.  There also weren’t critics, as there was nothing to criticize.  Street Rods were popular, while hot rodding had died long ago.  Brushed aluminum sixteen-inch wheels, pastel paint jobs, and miles of tweed were in all of the magazines.  What young person would criticize a budget build of one of their peers when THAT was the alternative, at ten times the price, no less?

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Nowadays, I hear and see it all.  It’s become all about the “right”  wheels and tires, “correct” gauges, and “period correct” engine and transmission.  Barf…  No offense, period correct is cool, but people are so scared to try something new, that everything is starting to look the same.  Are the days of Ed “Big Daddy” Roth gone?  Can meth and marijuana not do what LSD used to?  Has the internet replaced newspaper to the point that “spit wadding” is no longer an acceptable way to fabricate a car body?  Are my ripped-up jeans a joke because they aren’t cuffed?  Is a tall Mohawk really less traditional than a tall pompadour?  Was I dreaming, or did I do a disc brake swap this past summer and then bolt a radial tire right back on top of it?

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Luckily, I’m not alone in thinking this way.  When hot rodding made a comeback in the early nineties, like-minded people managed to find each other.  Over the years, the scene became attractive, and the wrong people jumped on the bandwagon as a fashion statement.  It’s not like the movie They Live, you don’t need special sunglasses to see them, they stand out pretty clearly.  They’re the ones who make a point of being outcasts with their fashion and their attitudes, yet make a scene when they succeed, and are turned away at certain venues.  They’re the ones who criticize based on envy, or knock someone who does it on their own, when they’ve never dared try themselves.

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I’ve had six empty cabinet doors in my shop for years, and now I’ve decided to use them to support those that support the scene.  Small businesses, like-minded clubs, or just friends.  I’ve started three doors, and finished one.  Is one of your stickers on there?  Cool!  Glad to hear it.  Do you want to be on there?  Maybe you want a “Secondaries Wide Open” or “Northside Street Rods” sticker for your own support cabinet?  Hit me up, I can make it all happen.  Nothing brings me more joy than walking down the street, or into a public washroom, and seeing a support sticker from someone I know.  “Cool, they’re into vandalism, and they piss here too.”

 

Turn to Channel 40

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Seriously.  Drop whatever you’re doing, get to a SiriusXM radio, turn to station number 40, and crank that shit up to eleven (0r a reasonable facsimile, three past “uncomfortably loud”).  If you’re a diehard Metallica fan like myself, you’ve been there for a while already, for sure over a week.  Their new album is coming out, and they’ve taken over the station.  If you’re a diehard metal fan, you’re probably used to being there anyways, as 40 is usually Liquid Metal.  As you may have already guessed, I’ve been in the shop for the last ten days or so, making progress, rocking out, and depriving myself of both writing time and sleep.

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I started listening to heavy metal in about the fifth grade. Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Slayer, etc.  Up until that point, I was actually a big Alice Cooper fan.  My first cassette was Alice Cooper’s Greatest Hits, while my first CD was Metallica’s self-titled Black Album.  That jewel case is so used and abused, that the cover almost looks frosted, but it still plays perfectly after all these years.  I can only imagine how many miles it has on it, not even counting the copy I have permanently embedded on the flash drive that lives in the car.

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Longest I’ve ever driven for a concert?  You bet, Metallica.  They played in Edmonton when they were filming the movie a few years ago.  I left home at noon on Saturday, checked into the hotel, took a cab to the concert, took a cab back to the hotel from the concert, and was home by noon again Sunday.  The show was pretty incredible, but I don’t recall there being any footage from the Edmonton show used in the movie.  Over the course of the night, I caught three guitar picks, and a giant black beach ball.

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When the show was over, it was pandemonium.  There were people and cars everywhere.  I knew it’d be a while before a cab would become available, so I went to the bar across the street, The Whiskey Rock.  What did I do with the beach ball, you may ask?  Let the air out of it and stuck it down the front of my pants, of course.  Once inside, they played nothing but 90’s grunge, punk rock, and metal, and drinks were stupid cheap.  I managed to put away a Corona every ten minutes for two hours, and half a tray of Porn Star shots.  The only downside of this whole trip?  I never drove an old vehicle…  Next time.  Gotta make Hetfield proud. (The picture of his bucket is a screen cap from YouTube, by the way.  Gotta give credit, right?)

 

Early Bird gets the Caffeine

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Yesterday, my alarm clock went off at 4:00am.  Normally, I’d be going to bed at 4:00am on a Saturday morning, or doing a “walk of shame” across a city or something.  Yesterday was different, however, so different that I thought my alarm clock was broken.  I bought it off eBay, in case you’re wondering.  It has a hard driven built in, and two speakers, allowing me to wake up to “Regular People” by Pantera any day of the week.  If you’re reading this, you need one.

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I managed to get out the door by 5:15am, not leaving the house until I heard the train go by.  No one wants to start their day waiting for a train, right?  At the crossing, there were what appeared to be four random puddles, most people may not even take notice.  Knowing how I grew up, this was definitely the result of a truck full of young guys headed home, and when they had to stop for the train anyways, they multi-tasked with a much-needed piss-break.  The human body can only hold so much beer…  I never did see another vehicle in the first eighty miles of my journey.  It was a balmy one-degree above freezing, and the Northern Lights were dancing really nice, even spotted a shooting star (or a crashing UFO).

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Our journey started in Weyburn at 8:00am, and I managed to get there right on time, partially thanks to the five cups of coffee I’d already had.  We jumped in the ’38 Ford Sedan, and we were off to meet the other car a few miles South.  What a great car that sedan is.  350 Chevy automatic, Mustang II front end, and the cushiest seats a guy could ask for.  I never took my wallet out of my back pocket, as I never noticed it was back there the whole trip.  We met up with the little green ’28 Model A Sedan, headed out across the border into North Dakota, and looked for a change of scenery.  First stop was a photo opportunity descending into a valley.  The view was cool, but I was more impressed with all the empty beer cans and full piss jugs, myself.  People stop here a lot apparently.

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Next stop: Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  It’s all really weird, hollow sandstone.  There’s stuff slid all over the place, bison roaming around, and neat spherical boulders.  The views are pretty crazy, as well.  There’s hiking trails, but I’m not confident anyone gets out once they get down in there.

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Our lunch stop was in Watford City at Siggy’s Sandwich.  It’s a neat old service station turned into a restaurant.  I had a Santa Fe Salad, and everyone else had a sandwich.  The pulled pork looked pretty amazing, and if you’re into it, I suggest you check this place out.  With the exchange rate, it’s likely a $20.00 lunch, but it’s pretty worth it.  Don’t forget to look for the “NSSR” tag I left of the blackboard gumball machine in chalk, that I apparently forgot to take a picture of…

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After that, we headed to the Fairview Lift Bridge and Cartwright Tunnel.  There’s tons of history on it if you give it a Google sometime.  I took a ton of pictures, up to and including the creative graffiti, and a spot in the middle of the tunnel where kids obviously party.  There were some wooden pallets and some decent sized logs stacked there untouched, so I assume events were to transpire in the not-so-distant future.

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Our last stop before crossing the border was in Williston to drop off a calendar at the new home of a car that left our club.  It looks as good as ever, and the new owner is pretty happy with it, as well (not to mention he’s a cool guy).  What was the point of this trip?  It was a sunny day in November with no snow.  They’re hot rods, we’re hotrodders, and you just have to drive them when you can.  I got to bed at 2:00am, after a tall-can Monster and two Rockstars between Williston and home.  Not a bad twenty-two-hour day at all.

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