Sunday, January 3, 2010

What I learned in auto shop

I wasn't the best student Elmira High ever had. In fact, when they graded on a curve, I made everyone else look better. Not stupid, I just had trouble focusing. I failed to see the need to memorize dates in history class, or the practical purpose of knowing what the inside of a frog looks like. Unless of course, one aspired to be a frog doctor. I'm more of a nuts and bolts kind of guy. Some would say more 'nuts' than 'bolts'.

Now for those who have leaped ahead, and are expecting to be told how auto shop was the only class which held my interest, you would be wrong. Auto shop was taught by a teacher assigned to teach this class, and who had more of an interest in blowing smoke rings in the teachers lounge than cars. Perhaps he was just killing time until his public employees retirement kicked in. Perhaps he was a frustrated frog doctor.

What I learned in auto shop is a good student is one with an interest and a need. You will learn what that is sticking out of the valve cover after excessive RPMs, and you will need to fix it. The noise from the differential is probably the spider gears or side pinions again. One might say I drove myself to be a good student. Life will teach us what we need to know. Every now and then, we need to drive with the headers open and the window down...

And I still don't care what the inside of a frog looks like.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ford versus Chevy

Every car guy, or girl, has been involved in this debate in one form or another. Excepting of course the people who live on the mopar planet. I was always a Chevy guy. This loyalty began the day I got my first car. A Chevy. Immediately I began to feel superior to others less fortunate. I'm not really sure why as I look back at the reality that was. My car smoked badly and required an overhaul. The electric fuel pump worked poorly if it was working at all.
When everything was at last working properly, as the fine people at General Motors had intended, things started to break. Apparently my car was under engineered for the heavy foot of a sixteen year old. Fix or repair daily could have easily been applied to that little Chevy. No matter. I was a Chevy guy. Broken parts were nailed to the garage wall. Badges of honor. I was a Chevy guy.
Things are different now. I have two Chevys, two Fords. and an Eldorado I would like to unload. (I don't have a wall big enough to hang all the things that are about to break on that Eldorado.) They are what they are. Sure, you can make big power cheaper with a small block Chevy engine, and they will fit in about anything. (see most older Ford hot rods) I no longer consider myself a 'Chevy guy'. I'm a car guy. There are things to enjoy about all of them. And enjoy them I do.
Drive safe,

Saturday, December 12, 2009


I read a lot of magazines. If I like a particular magazine I will subscribe for a year or two. When my subscription expires, I will renew it a couple of months ahead of time so as not to miss issues. Unless they piss me off. Lately, a lot of magazine peddlers have been pissing me off.

When the second or third issue of a two year subscription comes with a 'urgent renewal' notice, I first thought there was an error in their system. It isn't an error! It is a dishonest and deceptive marketing tactic designed to cheat their own customers.

One publication (CLASSIC TRUCKS) was so 'in my face' with urgent renewal notices I didn't renew. After writing twice, and calling once, they agreed to remove me from that particular marketing tactic. Too late though. They had already pissed me off.

Another thing that irritates me is the little cards inside all of the magazines. One? Fine. Four? What is the point? It must be effective for some or they wouldn't do it. It only irritates me.

I know I'm just an old dog sittin' on the porch barkin'. I don't bite, but if ya irritate me long enough, I'll cock my leg and piss on your magazine.

Drive safe... John

Sunday, November 8, 2009


We know it when we see it. Sure, it's different for everyone, but you know when you see the one that looks perfect to you. Everyone else sees a beautiful classic, but you see perfection. Is it available? Can you afford it? It really doesn't make any difference. It's perfect. It takes your breath away and makes your heart beat faster just thinking thinking about it.
I have seen perfection...

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Sideways in second

I'm 62. Apparently, I'm going to have a hard time growing up. I'm a responsible adult most of the time, or at least part of the time if you talk to the people who know me best. I pay my bills, keep my grass mowed, and buy whatever the little neighbor kids are selling. However, somethings haven't changed since High School.

The small block and four speed are now in the '55 and when that gear reduction starter twists some life into it, It is 1965 again! The body lifts a little with the first stab of the throttle (totally unnecessary) and when the low rumble starts, the years start falling away. By the time it is warmed up enough to move, the white haired old man is a kid. Some wonder how I lived through my first childhood. I hope this one lasts forever. I hope I don't get sent to driving school again.

In 1966, the city of Eugene thought it would be a good idea if I attended their driving school. If I remember correctly, it wasn't an option. The judge mentioned something about 21 tickets in a year wasn't acceptable. The classes were given under city hall and we parked in the parking garage there. I went, I passed and was given the certificate that said I was now a responsible driver. As I was leaving the garage, to celebrate the completion their boring class, I laid a couple of long black marks most of the way up to the sidewalk. There I was met by one of Eugene's finest. He saw my driving certificate on the seat next to me and said something about "slow learner". He then wrote ticket number 22.

I can't remember when I got my last ticket. It has been over twenty ago, of that I'm sure. Maybe I have grown up a little. Maybe I have just gotten lucky. I am a better driver now than when I was in High School, but yesterday I got sideways in second.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Ya just gotta drive them!

When I first got my car four years ago, it spent most of its time locked in the garage, safe and out of the weather. I spent a lot of time polishing and buffing and admiring and worrying. What if I got a door ding? What if it started raining? What the hell was I thinking? I took the street out of my street rod!
This summer, the street is back in my street rod. We have been to Portland, Seattle, and most recently to Yountville (Napa Valley) to visit my son and his lady. We have been rained on, parked outside over night and dripped on by trees. We drove thru a herd of butterflies and painted the front yellow. Mostly yellow anyway. It all washes off and/or cleans up fine. The memories will last forever.
When my cars are handed down to my son, they may again need a frame off restoration. At best they will need tires and an oil change.
Drive safe, and often...

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Al Gore is a moron

Al Gore's Ethanol is eating my fuel system. Global warming? Al, that's just the heat coming from all the people whose lawnmowers, chainsaws, and hot rods you have screwed (word substitution) up. If I am required to run alcohol on the street I'm going to drive a dragster. Hey Al, how about filling your Prius with nitromethane and see what happens!
Why the rant? I missed a cruze because of a plugged fuel system. I can fix it, and there will be other cruzes. This isn't the end of the world. I'm just pissed because this is so unnecessary.
Hey Al, kiss my tail pipe...