Tuesday, March 4, 2014



Spring has sprung and Squirrel Season has officially begun. The forest pranksters are back and on the attack! (Todd Schorr image)

Items I have thoughtlessly tossed into my toolbox: Locks, socks and chickenpox. And Douglas is welcome to all of it. (Image found online)


It was a lark. A base sophomoric acting-out of minuscule import. When we put the first squirrel on the SGE payroll as a fuzzy metaphor of ourselves, we envisioned a one-shot gag that might be good for a grin and nothing more. The manic public reaction caught us completely off guard and has steadily steamrolled in the interim. And since becoming overnight superstars at this year's Super Bowl, the SGE Squirrels have fostered their own industry and are moving merchandise through it, as if through a goose. Today, your SGE shrine isn't complete without these must-haves:


Yes, this is an ad for the Squirrel Phone.

Radio Shack, in conjunction with NASA, is developing a robotic squirrel, to hit the market this summer.


This is just nuts. I don't know that the squirrels themselves have cashed in on any of this swag, but they've certainly been well exploited. Good for them.


We thought the fantastical squirrels could use some realistic counterpoint, so the toolboxes were added shortly afterward to help balance the load. As it turned out, the squirrels still overran the boxes, in fan mail anyway. But the boxes are every bit as much "us" as the squirrels, so they remain. This year's Toolbox Freakout spotlights the collection of one Kevin Perry in Ventura, California. You may know him as Kiwi Kev, owner-builder of countless race cars (including the legendary Nasty Habit Willys gasser) and myriad wildass hot rods. Kev makes a lot of tools and parts too, though most of his tools are too big to fit in a box. We'll allow that, this one time. Kev's shop has soaked up a lot of ink and bandwidth, but just in case you missed it...

And that's just the shop.
The driveway is usually pretty interesting, too. 

Kiwi Kev and his Nasty Habit.  (Photos courtesy of Kiwi Kev)

Thanks for the inspiration and entertainment, Kev. We'll check in again sometime, once we've digested this. Whew... (Photos courtesy of Kiwi Kev)




It's still winter in Panama, Iowa, and Beth Main and Tim Jones are still building their respective project cars - a T speedster for Beth and a Comp Coupe for Tim - both of which have recently been featured on this blog. Just getting to the parts store can be a challenge in the Midwest winter, but they don't sweat it - they just hitch up the team and go shopping. Beth demonstrates here.

At this point, Beth is considering dog power over the 'banger currently scheduled for her speedster. You do what you gotta do - when in Panama... (Photos courtesy of Tim Jones)

Meanwhile, in Nebraska...    (Photographer unknown)

... and in Wisconsin...                                                 (Photo by Ansel Adams)



It happens to the best of us. The President and First Lady of American Hot Rodding, SGE pals Lance and Diane Sorchik, were beaten down by 2014's eternal chill, and suffered such a wicked case of cabin fever that they finally gave up and flew the coop. They evacuated their snowbound northern New Jersey home and blasted off to Hawaii a couple of weeks ago. SGE International correspondent Mr. X embedded himself in a herd of rabid Hawaiian paparazzi and caught the action, enhanced here by the Sorchiks' own private vacation photos. Crank up your electric blanket and get decadent vicariously through these pictures of paradise.

Finally waving goodbye to New York City (AKA Shakey Town, The City of Big Shoulders, and The City of Brotherly Lights), after a lengthy snow delay on the tarmac.

It didn't take Lance all day to sniff out some interesting tin during a layover. You don't need a security X-ray to see the wheels whizzing in his head.

 Paradise at last! Cute kids, too.

A rare dash of snow made our heroes feel right at home.

The motel amenities were at once familiar and exotic. 

The tropical waters seemingly triggered a cosmic reversal of Lance's personal evolutionary chart, rocketing him back into a near-primordial state... 

... allowing for this amazing reunion with some long lost ancestors. The backwards ball cap is from Englishtown Raceway, circa 1977. Bonus: The scuba tank is now toting fuel in the trunk of Lance's '33 roadster.

While in the neighborhood, Lance crossed paths with Marty Lau, proprietor of the 808 Speed Shop in Kailua on the island of Oahu. Lance tagged Marty, "A really talented young guy, who's living his dream. His shop was full of cool projects..."

What does a dyed-in-the-wool trad custom guy drive? Marty's choice is this clean-and-mean Chevelle.

The secret entrance to Warren Chamberlin's Hilo hideout, on the Big Island. The Sorchik's propensity for finding these human needles in a haystack the size of the Pacific ocean borders on supernatural.

Sure enough, Warren and Lance were amigos from the get-go (I think that's Hawaiian for Fast Friends). It just figures that Warren is a New York transplant. Lance on Warren: "He was more than cordial to Di and I - a couple of strangers who, out of the blue, contacted him and asked to come to his place so we could look at his stuff!"

Warren's drivers reveal a Pentastar slant, so to speak. 

The '50 Dodge coupe just received this dual quad 513" transplant (a bored and stroked '68 440 with all the fun stuff, trailed by a 727 and 8 3/4 with 4.10s). No heavy Hemi heads for Warren - he's now strictly a Polynesian head hunter (these are aluminum Edelbrocks).The front axle was made at the Pearl Harbor shipyards back when, and Traction Masters provide some weight transfer. Warren built it, "To the 1962 NHRA rule book." Hilo's incessant rain hasn't allowed for a proper test drive yet.

Warren keeps pretty busy in the shop. And he stocked it with enough crusty treasure to convince the Sorchiks that the true paradise lay under this roof. His current '37 pickup project sits at the forefront.

Warren gives the First Lady the tour. Imagine his jangled nerves, knowing the surrounding bushes are alive with excitable natives, press, and Secret Service. Hopefully, Warren read the protocol guide beforehand. 

And just like that, their meter expired and the Sorchiks came crashing back into the reality of a New Jersey February. They've re-acclimated now and are nearly recovered. The poor dears. Keep them in your prayers. 

Life is back to normal now, but even non-stop sub-zero shoveling is a warm fuzzy funfest, when hanging loose in a fresh Hawaiian shirt. (Photos courtesy of Jumpstart Graphics and Mr. X )



It's no secret that I'm a lifelong supporter of women in motorsports and am willing to do whatever it takes to help any estrogen-powered entry to the winner's circle. But I didn't see this coming: Motormouth Ray found this piece online and alerted me immediately. When I saw it, my day came to a screeching halt. I was absolutely mesmerized by what I saw. The loonies at Studio Diip (I believe it's a division of Electro Mechanical Components) acting on a hunch, invented this fiendishly simple way for a fish to drive its tank around. Finally! I have a vested interest in such matters, as Saint Shellski and myself have an amazing Blue Heeler/Border Collie mix, known to the world as Sheila The Wonder Dog. Sheila is an excellent navigator and fancies herself an above average driver, but I respectfully disagree. She's good, but not great. I suspect the holdback to be the inherently flawed paw design, unsuited to the steering wheel contour. So this fishy breakthrough instantly caught my attention. Now to transfer this technology to canine use... Testing will commence as soon as funds allow.

This mobile aquarium (an Arduino-controlled robotic car) is powered by a beefed electric motor. What else would you expect from EMC? Check the badass rolling stock and suspension. This is one stylin' goldfish.

A simple webcam is attached to the kart and monitors the fish's position, sending data through a battery operated Beagleboard, which converts the fish's direction to the vehicle's steering mechanism.

The star of the show. You can't really tell by this shot, but it's busting moves like Mario Andretti in there!

Quoting from EMC's website, "Specifically, the system uses the contrast of where the fish is within the tank against the bottom of the encasement to determine its position, whereupon commands are sent to the Arduino for moving the car in that specific direction." So the fish goes left, the car goes left, etc. The video shows the fish in total control of the car, as it cruises around the office, dodging water coolers, wastepaper baskets, and dozing office workers. It didn't hit anything, violate any traffic laws, nor spill a drop of water.

If a goldfish can navigate an office full of personnel, then a dog (with its much larger brain mass and actual extremities) should be competitive on the autocross in a suitably equipped race car. That just stands to reason. The Blue Heeler/Border Collie mix is a herding breed, capable of lightning cuts and other running back maneuvers. I think my Model A project is about to get an Arduino and Beagleboard upgrade (along with a mailman air freshener and dogbone radiator cap). Sheila will be unbeatable on the track! Watch this space for test results. (Photos and imagery courtesy of EMC)

See the spellbinding video at: http://www.electronicproducts.com/Electromechanical_Components/Motors_and_Controllers/A_fish_that_can_steer_its_tank_around_the_room_because_why_not.aspx

Aspiring race car driver Sheila The Wonder Dog. Note body architecture suitable for bucket seat. She's a natural. But she sometimes has one goldfish too many... (Scotty shot)




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